Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cabot and DEP clash over Dimock water contamination

"A clash between the state's environmental regulators and gas driller Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. over the cause and solution for contaminated water wells in Dimock Township escalated on Tuesday, with the Cabot CEO accusing the Department of Environmental Protection of waging "a public war against us."

That late-day salvo - in the form of a press release and 29-page letter from Cabot CEO Dan O. Dinges to DEP Secretary John Hanger - came hours after Hanger described as "very unfortunate and false" an advertisement by Cabot published Tuesday morning in area newspapers that criticized his department and its plan for replacing the contaminated private water supplies in Dimock.

In the advertisement published in The Times-Tribune and the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Cabot challenged a state plan to compel the natural gas driller to replace the contaminated wells with an estimated 7-mile-long, $10.5 million public water line from Montrose, calling the proposal "unreasonable, unprecedented and ... unfair."

Original Article

1. Again do not know all the details - but 10.5 million dollars to construct a water supply source for 14 home is expensive.
2. What will be the cost to maintain this system and how is paying??
3.  It is difficult to maintain chlorine residuals with a distribution system this long and ther is a chance to create THM (trihalomethanes and similiar complexes)
4. THis should not be paided by the state and should not be funded by growing greener or severence tax. 
5. If the contamination is this widespread - then the company should pay -but it seems like it is going to court.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Baseline Testing Natural Gas Development for Tobys Creek, Sweet Valley, and Lehman Area Luzerne County Pennsylvania

Baseline Testing Independent water testing Natural Gas Development for Harveys Lake Region Luzerne County Pennsylvania

Baseline Testing Natural Gas Development for Harveys Lake Region Luzerne County Pennsylvania


Press Release– Sep 20, 2010 – The professional geologists at B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. is working with the local environmental groups and citizens to offer affordable baseline testing to the residents of Sweet Valley and the Lehman Area, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The professional geologist at B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. provided specific recommendations on baseline water quality testing that was specific to the background geology, land-use, and regional water quality for the local watersheds.

For more information on this specific outreach or developing other community baseline water quality monitoring programs, please visit
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc also promotes the use of alternative and renewable energy, water conservation, water reuse and more.  Please visit our online store.

Building Performance Institue BPI Training, Energy Auditor, LEED AP Green Associate Sustainability Certification

Energy Auditor Training + BPI Certification Exams - Green Building LEED Sustainability

Energy Auditor Training + BPI Certification Exams

Sustainable Energy Engineer and Entrepreneur with more than thirty-two (32) years experience in energy engineering, technical training, consulting, project management; residential housing, construction and finance; and network design and implementation. His recent focus has been on sustainable energy; certifying ENERGY STAR Homes, providing BPI training services, alternative energy projects, and performing residential and small commercial energy audits.

The goal of this course is to prepare you for the BPI Building Analyst Written and Field Certification Exams. There is a lot of material for you to learn, including building science concepts, how to perform inspections, operate various test equipment, perform calculations and interpret results so that you can make recommendations regarding actions that can be taken to improve the energy efficiency, health and safety of a building.

This course teaches students the fundamentals of building science, important safety checks, and how to perform full residential energy audits. Four days of intense training are split between three days in the classroom and a full day of hands-on field training. BPI Building Analyst Certification tests (both written and field) are included. Students have the option of completing the course and taking the exams all in the same week, or returning at a later date to complete the exams. Class size is limited to 15 because one-on-one interaction with the instructor is critical. Students completing this course often become energy auditors, HERS raters, and home performance contractors.

Hands-on field training for doing energy audits and home performance contracting
• Full set of books and training materials
• Five days learning from an expert with real-world experience
• Pre-course assignments to get you ready for class - available immediately when you enroll
• BPI certification exams included (written and field)
• Breakfast & lunch on each of the training days

Please take care of all of the above preparation prior to class week. One of the best things you can do prior to an exam is to get a good night’s rest.

For access to this course go to
use promo code "bfenviro"- for a discount

For other training programs to to

LEED Training, Green Building, and Sustainability - Go To

Sunday, September 19, 2010



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created an “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency, suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development. EPA is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free) if they observe what appears to be illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Report also may be sent by email to

Citizens may provide tips anonymously if they don’t want to identify themselves. In case of an emergency, such as a spill or release of hazardous material, including oil, to the environment, citizens are advised to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

According to the EPA, public concern about the environmental impacts of oil and natural gas drilling has increased in recent months, particularly regarding development of the Marcellus Shale formation where a significant amount of activity is occurring.

While EPA doesn’t grant permits for oil and gas drilling operations, there are EPA regulations that may apply to the storage of petroleum products and drilling fluids. The agency is also very concerned about the proper disposal of waste products, and protecting air and water resources.

EPA is asking citizens to report the location, time and date of such activity, as well as the materials, equipment and vehicles involved and any observable environmental impacts.

Instructions for the tipline are at:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Drought Warnings In PA - We need to conserve water Philadelphia, Allegheny, Lehigh, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bucks, Montgomery and Washington.

24 counties on state’s drought warning list

Source Of this Post-

"24 counties on state’s drought warning list

Pennsylvania environmental officials have put 24 counties including Carbon, Schuylkill, Northampton and Monroe under a drought warning and the rest of the state under a drought watch. Meager rainfall and high temperatures prompted the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue the warnings Thursday. DEP Secretary John Hanger says a hot, dry summer has led to steadily declining ground and surface water levels.

A drought warning asks residents to voluntarily reduce water use by 10-15 percent.
DEP said rainfall deficits over the past 90 days are currently as great as 5.6 inches below normal in Somerset County and 5.5 inches in Bucks County.  Other counties under a drought warning include Philadelphia, Allegheny, Lehigh, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Bucks, Montgomery and Washington.

A drought watch is the lowest of three advisory levels and a drought warning is the second-most severe condition. No counties in the state are under a drought emergency.
DEP is sending letters to all water suppliers statewide, notifying them of the need to monitor their supplies and update their drought contingency plans as necessary. It monitors a statewide network of groundwater wells and stream gauges that provide comprehensive data to the state drought coordinator.

DEP offers the following tips for conserving water around the home:

Install low-flow plumbing fixtures and aerators on faucets
Check for household leaks a leaking toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day
Take short showers instead of baths. Kitchen/laundry areas
Replace older appliances with high efficiency, front-loading models that use about 30 percent less water and 40-50 percent less energy
Run dishwashers and washing machines only with full loads
Keep water in the refrigerator to avoid running water from a faucet until it is cold.
The department also offers water conservation recommendations for commercial and industrial users, such as food processors, hotels and motels, schools and colleges, as well as water audit procedures for large water customers. Water conservation tips and drought information can be found online at, keyword: drought.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hydraulic Fracturing Comments Sent to EPA

To Whom It May Concern:

My primary concerns and comments on this matter are as follows:
1. It is my professional opinion that is it not necessary to regulate the fracturing process under the UIC program, but I believe it would be advisable to track the location and development of these oil and natural gas wells as a sister program or a component of the UIC program. This is especially true for states like New York and Pennsylvania that did adopt primacy for the UIC program and it is EPA obligation to implement the UIC program.
2. The development and operation of oil and gas production needs to be done in a manner that does not conflict with the UIC program. If not properly tracked, monitored, and governed- deep oil and gas wells with horizontal drilling has the potential to adversely influence or affect the operation of existing or future injection wells or cause movement of contaminated water, i.e., water with a TDS greater than 10,000 mg/L, into the USDW waters.
Therefore – without the involvement of EPA – Oil and Gas Development in NY and PA may be done in a manner that is not consistent with the UIC program. This involvement does not need to be a new regulatory process, but mostly like a cooperative agreement or interagency agreement or memorandum of understanding.
Even though chemicals are added to the “frac” water – the state program should be encouraged to require the use of “green” frac chemicals and practices that have a lower impact on the environment. With respect to fracturing, it is my professional opinion the primary concern would be the induced movement of deep biogenic or thermogenic gas or connate water from the deeper portions of the geological structure into the USDW water. Therefore, we need to have protection in place so the development process does not facilitate the movement of water that has been trapped in the formation for 400 million years into the USDW water.
From my perspective and assuming the use of diesel, BTEX compounds, aromatic hydrocarbons, and other toxic chemicals are prohibited in the fracing process - the primary concern is not the relatively low levels of organics in frac water, but the elevated levels of sodium, chloride, barium, strontium, gross alpha, lithium, iron, manganese, and sulfur compounds or gases that may come from the Marcellus Shale or other formations between the shale and USDW. This includes the migration of flammable gases and other noxious gases because of fracking pressure or poorly constructed/cemented wells.
3. The industry is creating a boring and stabilized hole that has the potential of becoming, after the gas is withdrawn, a regulated injection well – even if the goal of the injection is to enhance oil and gas recovery or to carbon sequester. From the start – the wells cement and casing requirements should be constructed to meet or exceed the standards required for Class I injection wells.
4 Without tracking the installation, pressurization, use and redevelopment of each well, tracking the movement and quality of the fluids, and tracking the abandonment of these wells – these wells have the potential for having both short-term and long-term consequences.
In the short-term, these well could cause or induce a push of contaminated water, i.e., water with a purity of less the 99%, or biogenic gas or interfere with UIC wells permitted by EPA.
In the long-term, these gas and oil wells have the potential for adversely affecting existing injecting wells, siting new injection wells, adversely affecting the utilization and siting of carbon sequestration systems, and the drilling and development process has the potential to adversely affect the Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW). The definition of USDW is defined as an "aquifer or its portion which supplies any public water system, or contains less that 10,000 milligrams per liter total dissolved solids and is not an exempt aquifer."
5.Because the deep oil and gas wells have the potential for interfering with existing or future UIC program wells, the drilling, construction, and development process for these oil and gas wells needs to be consistent with the goals of the UIC program and should not interfere with the UIC program. Therefore, in states like PA – the EPA should take a more proactive role in at least tracking and being informed about the oil and gas wells to ensure that the PA State Oil and Gas Regulations are consistent with the goals of the EPA Managed UIC program in PA. This involvement does not need to be a new regulatory process, but mostly like a cooperative agreement or interagency agreement or memorandum of understanding.

6. My specific suggestions (Interim Measures – Assuming no moratorium) :

a. EPA and individual states should review state Oil and Gas Regulations to ensure the regulations are consistent with the goals and objectives of the Federal UIC program and the regulations represent the Best Industry Practices to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community and environment.
b. During the permitting process, the process should document if there are any injection wells or saline seeps within an area being developed or leased for natural gas or oil development, plus a distance of at least 2500 feet from the production zone. The 2500 feet distance was recommended because it has been reported that hydraulic fracturing can initially induce fracturing a distance of at least 1000 - 1500 feet from the pressurization point (therefore a 1000 foot buffer has been added) and the sand is used as a proppant can create a 300 to 500 feet (Producing Zone).
See Attached report- World Watch Institute- July 2010.
Therefore – the available data indicates that hydraulic fracturing should not induced saline water or gas migration, but gas is migrating
I do not believe gas is migrating because of fracing, but because of poor drilling and cementing practices. This conclusion does not mean that we need to ignore the problem – we need to fix the problem so this leakage does not interfere with the UIC program and does not induce contamination of the USDW.
c.Chemicals, Water Tracking, Waste Tracking – The chemical types and volumes injected into the well during the drilling and development need to be disclosed in the well completion report, a cradle to grave tracking system of waste and produced water volumes is required, and chemical analysis of the production water used include a complete listing of regulated chemicals, chemicals used in the development process, and chemicals that have established drinking water limits (plus chemicals that have been added to the EPA Candidate List) . This industry should not be exempt from the Toxic Release Reporting Process. This needs to be completed because sometime in the future, it may be necessary to identify the source of a contamination event or situation. In order to evaluate and identify the source of contamination – we need the data. If you do not collect the data – it will not be possible to scientifically or legally prove a cause-effect relationship.
d. Monitoring- For each production well site – a monitoring program is needed. This program is needed because it is not known what the true depth and thickness of the Underground Sources of Drinking Water (USDW) and there are basically no private well construction standards within Pennsylvania.
The predrilling monitoring should include the following components:
1. Monitoring a radial distance of at least 2500 feet from a production well, plus up to 1000 feet from a horizontal leg for the well. This monitoring needs to include existing private wells, springs, and streams, plus the monitoring should include the installation of multiple deep monitoring wells that isolate the deepest portion of the USDW in the region. Baseline monitoring needs to include a comprehensive listing of cations/anions, VOCs, SOCs, radiological, and other unregulated chemicals.
2. Monitoring should be conducted prior to drilling and then conducted 6 months and 1 year after completion and then immediately prior to and after any subsequent re-pressurization/ re-fracturing of the wellbore.
e. Public Outreach – the public should be informed and it should be encouraged that a copy of the permit be maintained at a local state office or office for a local township or municipality.

f. The EPA, other federal agencies, states, and the industry should fund a detailed investigation of the production and development process. The goal of this investigation should include baseline environmental testing prior to drilling, monitoring during the drilling and development process, and post production monitoring at representative terrestrial sites in the Unites States. This study should not result in the implementation of a drilling and gas development moratorium.

e. Memorandum of understanding with Teeth – Recommend Building from this original MOU and putting together a document with a downside.

The EPA, PA and other states, and Natural Gas Companies and Development Companies should not be voluntary and should prohibit the use of toxic chemicals and require the use of Best Industry Practices and at a Minimum Recommended Industry Standards fro Natural Gas and oil development. If a company is found not to follow these practices – they should be prohibited from conducting business in a given state or commonwealth.
7. Specific Recommendations on EPA Study

a.EPA whould work in partnership with State Agency, Industry, and local Universities to select sites throughout the US and NEPA to complete a detailed investigation of natural gas development. The study should be a cradle to grave investigation that evaluates the various types of drilling, development techniques, and fracturing processes.
Sites selection should be based on a combination of geological site conditions and location to urban corridors and high profile/ environmental areas. The investigation should not just be a comparison of vertical and horizontal drilling – but vertical, horizontal drilling using individual vertical wells with one horizontal leg, and a single vertical well with multiple horizontal leg (“tree design”).
b.The study should include the comprehensive evaluation of a site prior to gas development- air soil and water and a general biological diversity study. This would include the detailed mapping and understanding the quality and movement of shallow and deep USDW waters and the water quality and hydraulic pressures of the formation water to a depth that extends beyond the Marcellus Shale, habitat studies, and air monitoring. The habitat studies should use control areas that include areas that have been cleared for other activities.
c. The study should include the comprehensive evaluation of the site during the construction and development process. The baseline monitoring will need to extent at least 2500 feet from the vertical boring and than up to 1000 feet from a horizontal leg. The monitoring should be adequate enough to actually document the extent of fracture development during pressurization and the actual width of the production zone.
Personal Note- I do not conduct any consulting for gas companies. I do assist in conducting baseline testing for citizens.
Respectfully submitted

Mr. Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612
570-335-1947 – cell phone

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baseline Testing Independent water testing Natural Gas Development for Harveys Lake Region Luzerne County Pennsylvania

Baseline Testing Natural Gas Development for Harveys Lake Region Luzerne County Pennsylvania

B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. is working with the Harveys Lake Environmental Council and Kirby Health Center to offer affordable baseline testing to the residents of Harveys Lake, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 14, 2010 – The professional geologists at B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. is working with the Harveys Lake Environmental Council and Kirby Health Center to offer affordable baseline testing to the residents of Harveys Lake, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The professional geologist at B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. provided specific recommendations on baseline water quality testing that was specific to the background geology, land-use, and regional water quality for the Harveys Lake Watershed.
For more information on this specific outreach or developing other community baseline water quality monitoring programs, please visit

Marcellus Shale Baseline Water Testing Independent Water Testing Regional Database Outreach Wyoming and Susquehanna County Lake Carey

Marcellus Shale Baseline Water Testing Regional Database Outreach Wyoming and Susquehanna County PA at Lake Carey - Independent Water Testing

Mr. Brian Oram a professional geologist participated in a open meeting to discuss issues of Marcellus Shale Development, Baseline Water Testing, and the Development of a Regional Citizens Database at Lake Carey in Tunkhannock Pennsylvania.

PRLog (Press Release) – Sep 14, 2010 – Mr. Brian Oram a professional geologist participated in a open meeting to discuss issues of Marcellus Shale Development, Baseline Water Testing, and the Development of a Regional Citizens Database at Lake Carey in Tunkhannock Pennsylvania on Sunday - September 12, 2010. During the presenation another professional Geologist, Mr. George Turner, was present to discuss environmental issues related to natural gas development.
Both speakers provide technical information related to natural gas development, permitting, drilling, the fracturing process, regional water quality, and the key components to baseline water testing. In addition, Mr. Brian Oram, PG, provide information on the free publication available from Wilkes University, the Development of a Citizen-based regional water quality database, discussed the programs that are part of the Homeowner Outreach Program at Wilkes University and issues related to lake and watershed management.

The event was held at Lake Carey.
For more information, please visit the following:

Citizen Database and Free Publication

Green Building Association New Organization Forming in Northeastern Pennsylvania Steering Committee Inaugural Reception

The Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania’s (GBACPA) will host an Inaugural Reception to announce the formation of the Northeast Branch Steering Committee on October 7, 2010 at 4:30 PM at the Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pennsylvania. The event is intended to join architects, engineers, builders, contractors, developers, financiers, facility managers, government officials, interior designers, landscape architects, urban planners, consultants, educators, and environmentalists to receive a presentation of corporate green building initiatives and to provide networking opportunities.

Event: Green Building Association of Central Pennsylvania’s (GBACPA) - Northeast Branch Steering Committee Inaugural Reception

Date & Time: Thursday, October 7, 2010 - 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM

Cost: $10/person (We decided to charge folks $10 to attend to assure we cover our costs) This will assure a more accurate number of attendees for those that pre-register.

Directions to Event:

Registration: Registration is required. Please contact Paula Terpak at 570-655-5581, ext. 231 or via email at or

Program: The one-hour program will include a small panel of corporate leaders from the region who will discuss their experiences with green building initiatives and why it is an important ingredient to their business model and successes. The program will follow a complementary one-hour cocktail reception with hors devours.

Sponsors: Schaedler Yesco, Martin Rogers Associates, PC, Green Field Energy Solutions, B.F. Environmental Consultants, Condron & Company, and Pocono Northeast Resource Conservation & Development Council.

Energy company sued for polluting groundwater, private wells Susquehanna County Pennsylvania

"LENOX TOWNSHIP, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Parker Waichman Alonso LLP announces that they have filed a lawsuit against Southwest Energy Production Company and its parent, Southwestern Energy Company, both of Houston Texas, on behalf of 13 families in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. The Plaintiffs allege that their water wells have been contaminated due to gas drilling operations being conducted by Southwest Energy Production Company. The lawsuit was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania Civil Division (Civil Action No: 2010-1882CP). In addition to Parker Waichman Alonso LLP, Plaintiffs are being represented by The Law Office of Michael Gleeson; Neblett, Beard & Arsenault; and the Becnel Law Firm, LLC.

According to the complaint, Southwest Energy Production Company is the owner and operator of the Price #1 Well in Lenox Township where the Plaintiffs live and reside. In April 2008, Southwest Energy began utilizing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to extract natural gas from the Price #1 Well. Hydraulic fracturing requires the discharge of enormous volumes of hydraulic fracturing fluids otherwise known as “fracking fluid” or “drilling mud” into the ground under extreme pressure in order to dislodge and discharge the gas contained under the ground.
The lawsuit alleges that the composition of fracking fluid includes hazardous chemicals that are carcinogenic and toxic. Diesel fuel and lubricating materials, also consisting of hazardous chemicals, are also utilized during drilling and well operations. The Plaintiffs allege that Southwest Energy Production Company was negligent in the drilling, construction and operation of the Price #1 Well and allowed pollutants, including fracking fluid, to be discharged into the ground or into the waters near Plaintiffs’ homes and water wells.
The lawsuit alleges that, among other things, Plaintiffs' water wells have been contaminated, and that they have been and continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals, including barium, manganese and strontium. As a result, Plaintiffs have had to pay for alternative sources of water. The lawsuit further alleges that the value of the Plaintiffs' property has diminished, and they have lost the use and enjoyment of their property, and the quality of life they otherwise enjoyed.
At least one of the Plaintiffs is alleged to have become physically ill, and exhibits neurological symptoms consistent with toxic exposure to heavy metals. The other Plaintiffs live in constant fear of future physical illness, particularly with respect to the health of their minor children and grandchildren, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunction barring Southwest Energy Partners from engaging in the acts cited by the complaint, as well as abatement of the nuisances, unlawful conduct, violations and damages created by those acts. It also seeks, among other things, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and the cost of future health monitoring.  "


Monday, September 6, 2010

Hydraulic Fracturing - Induced Fractures and the Freshwater Aquifer

I came across these Industry Articles and a resource guide from the League of Women Voters- they do not appear to be peer reviewed, but I think it is good starting point in the discussion.

It is my understanding from a different report that fracing process may initially create fractures that radiate about 1000 to 1500 feet from a well, but the production zone is limited to a distance of about 300 to 500 feet because the fractures beyond this distance do not stay open. (Source World Watch Report)

Instructions for the tipline can be found at:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Public Informational Meeting in Binghamton, NY Register NOW EPA Time Line

Registration: EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Public Informational Meeting

September 13 & 15

Broome County Forum Theater, Binghamton, NY

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected a new venue and dates for the public meeting on EPA's upcoming hydraulic fracturing study originally scheduled for August 12, 2010. The meeting will now be held at the Broome County Forum Theater in Binghamton, New York, on September 13th and 15th, 2010.
EPA will hold four identical sessions:
Dates: Monday, September 13, 2010 and Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Location: Broome County Forum Theater, 236 Washington St., Binghamton

•12:00pm - 4:00pm (pre-registration begins at 10:30am)
•6:00pm - 10:00pm (pre-registration begins at 4:30pm)

All individuals who pre-registered for the August 12 meetings will retain their registration for the September 13 and 15 meetings. Because the timing of the sessions has changed from a one-day event to a two-day event and EPA has added another meeting session, EPA needs pre-registered individuals to specify the session they would like to attend.
If you registered as an attendee for the August 12 session, please enter your information in the space provided below, and select the session you would like to attend. If you are registering for the first time, please follow the same procedure. Please note that a limited number of speaking slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You may only speak at ONE session. If you would like attend multiple sessions, please register for one session at a time.

EPA is expecting room-capacity crowds. Pre-registering helps EPA plan the meeting logistics and increases the likelihood that individuals will be able to attend their preferred sessions. Online and telephone registration (1-866-477-3635) will remain open through 5:00 pm, September 10, 2010. Those who are not pre-registered may still register to attend or provide verbal comment on the day of the meeting, time permitting.
Written comments can be sent to, or to Jill Dean, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Mail Code 4606M, Washington, DC 20460.
For additional questions or comments, please email or call 1-866-477-3635. Meeting information may be found on the EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study website at

Credentialed members of the media are encouraged to RSVP to by 5;00 pm, September 10, 2010. There will be a separate media registration table at the venue.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the creation of the “Eyes on Drilling” tipline for citizens to report non-emergency suspicious activity related to oil and natural gas development.

The agency is asking citizens to call 1-877-919-4EPA (toll free) if they observe what appears to be illegal disposal of wastes or other suspicious activity. Anyone may also send reports by email to Citizens may provide tips anonymously if they don’t want to identify themselves.

In the event of an emergency, such as a spill or release of hazardous material, including oil, to the environment, citizens are advised to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

Instructions for the tipline can be found at:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gas Bubbles in the Susquehanna River - Bradford County, Pennsylvania Natural or is this a Release?

"Well water problems have become a sticking point for those who argue over the safety of natural gas drilling. But Friday we talked to people in Bradford County who say they've never seen anything like this.

Investigators from the Department of Environmental Protection were in Bradford County, trying to find answers to the bubbles rising out of the ground along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River near Wyalusing. Neighbors are concerned it may be caused by methane gas coming from nearby natural gas drilling."

Source Article with Video:,0,2590877.story

It seems like an interesting story
1. Private wells changing filters more often.
2. Gas company drilling - but drilling miles away from site.

My questions
1. Is there any horizontal drilling in the area?
2. Is the gas associated with a saline seep?  Gas bubbles coming out but is any saline water?
3. Is the gas biogenic or thermogenic?
4. Is there baseline data available for the private wells in the area?  Especially since they are changing filters more often.

1. The gas companies could be a cause - more information needed.
2. Natural  - yes could be natural gases - the Susquehanna is a buried river valley and it is not unreasonable to believe there could be methane seepage.  Methane is naturally present in anoxic environments.
3. It would be interesting if some saline water was discharging.  There are natural saline seeps in Susquehanna County.

1. Install monitoring wells around drilling sites. 

Just my thoughts - would love to see more data and information

Interesting Report on Natural Sources of Methane Gas (By EPA) - 2 MB
It appears that natural sources account for at least 37 % of total emissions.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Harveys Lake - Baseline Water Testing Prior to Natural Gas Development

Recommended well testing costly; options aired

Published: September 2, 2010
Work by:, 570-821-2072
"Harveys Lake Environmental Advisory Council is teaming up with the Kirby Health Center laboratory and geologist Brian Oram to provide baseline water well testing to residents at reduced prices before natural gas well drilling begins at two sites not far from the lake.  "We are providing practical, pragmatic assistance to homeowners, as we have done for years," EAC member Michael Daley said.

Oram, who is director of Wilkes University's Center for Environmental Quality, said he is helping Harveys Lake as a professional geologist and citizen; it is unrelated to his work at Wilkes." 

Mr. Oram is working as the priniciple consultant for B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc a local business in Dallas, PA with over 20 years experience in hydrogeology, expert testimony, and water quality.  (My comment- not the author)"The nine testing packages the Environmental Advisory Council are offering are based on three-tier systems and range in price from $275 to $975. Substances tested for include methane, barium, total dissolved solids and others that could be associated with natural gas drilling but could also occur naturally."

Free Manual for Private Well Owners
I have added links to a number of self-monitoring devices that could be used as part of interim monitoring and checking by citizens.

Great Article !

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Independent Water Testing and Baseline Groundwater Testing State Certified Laboratories in Northeastern Pennsylvania - Columbia, Luzerne, Lackawanna, Wyoming

The following is a short listing of state or national certified testing laboratories in our region. If you want you can find in this blog a listing of all of the laboratories in the state.

First of all what is baseline testing and some details.

Because of the specifics concerns with respect to the Marcellus Shale, the citizens are recognizing the importance of documenting the baseline quality of their drinking water and recreational water sources. The primary concern is that many professionals are recommending baseline analysis that either provide a very broad range of parameters that are not specific enough to target the Marcellus Shale or a baseline analysis that targets only the potential impacts related to the develop of natural gas and in some cases there are companies with very little experience in environmental consulting.

From the citizens perspective - It is my professional opinion, the baseline analysis needs to take into consideration the following:
a. The existing geological conditions that may affect water quality for the region or area.

b. The existing land-use or activities occurring within the recharge zone for the well or spring or watershed area for the surfacewater resource.

c. Potential sources of contaminants from proposed developments that target the various phases of the development, i.e., drilling / drilling muds, intermixing of freshwater with saline and brine water, interception of shallow gas deposits, and management of the drilling pad.

d. The existing quality of your water and type of water source.

Of these 4 items, I believe that if the professional you are considering hiring does not ask you questions about your well and your current water quality you will not be establishing an affective baseline. In addition, the professional providing this information should not be just reading off a list of recommendations by some third party, but have solid understanding of earth sciences, hydrology, well drilling, and groundwater. Remember - you are establishing a "legal" baseline that may need to address a multitude of issues not just Marcellus Shale Drilling or Hydrofracing.

Establishing a baseline - the following questions should be asked and used in the decision making process.
1. Where are you located and What is the type of water source?

2. If it is a well, what is the depth of the well, static water level, and depth of casing?

3. Does the water system have an existing treatment system? If yes, why?

4. Does the water quality change when there is a heavy rain or snow melt?

5. Has it been tested in the past?

6. Are there any problems or issues? Such as: discolored water, metallic taste, turbidity, staining, blue-green staining, etc

7. This water source supports what type of use? Single-family home, house and small farm, etc.

8. What is the size of your parcel?

9. What is the existing and past use of your parcel?

10. What is the land-use surrounding and upgradient of this source?
If the person conducting your baseline analysis - is not asking you these questions - he/she may not be providing you the help you need.

Before we get into more detail - I you do not contact a certified laboratory for guidance - then at least call a professional.  This should be a licensed water or wastewater operator or other licensed professional in the state.  There are many persons making a lot of claims, but what is there experience in the profession, do not hirer someone that basically has not professional background in the subject.  Personally - I have had retired or displaced nurserys, salesman, and many others ask me to train.  This is not appropriate and will cause you to make a bad decision.

I read on other sites that there are 4 componets to a legally defensible baseline water test.  Here they are:

1. The test must be conducted by an independent 3rd party.
2. Training and protocols must be in place
3. There must be an identifiable chain of custody
4. The test must be conducted by a Pennsylvania State Certified Laboratory.

Guess What ?
These are wrong!
This is the right concept.

To adequately meet your needs - you must establish a baseline that does the following:

1. Addresses the existing condition of the groundwater source including volume and quality based on the existing or proposed usage and surrounding conditions.  Therefore, a person with a quarry near their home and a spring - may need a different set a parameters than a person living in the middle of a 100+ acre forest.
(Pick the right parameters that meet YOUR budget, YOUR Need, and relates to YOUR situation - One package does not fit ALL).

2. Characterize your well - static and dynamic water level- measure flow or rate - calculate specific capacity.

3. Work with a "certified laboratory" using their technician or a technician that they approve or authorize.

4. The laboratory could be PADEP approve or Nationally Accredited and the laboratory must be certified for the specific methods or process your sample in cooperation with another laboratory that is certified for the necessary methods.

You can contact me at
Over 20 years experience in geology, hydrology, and water quality related issues in Northeastern PA; expert witness, licensed water well driller, soil scientist, and much more.

The State Certified Laboratories that serve Northeastern PA are (partial list):
Aqua-Tech Lab, Mountaintop, PA 868-5346
Benchmark Analytical, East Stroudsburg, PA, 421-5122
Kirby Health Center, Wilkes-Barre, PA 822-4278
Friend Lab Inc., Waverly, NY, 607-565-2893
Northeastern Environmental Labs, Scranton, PA, 348-0775
Quantum Labs in Dickson City, PA 570-489-6964
Hawk Mountain Labs 570-455-6011 (Hazle Township, PA)
Seewald Laboratories 570.326.4001 ( Williamsport, PA)
(always willing to update)

Do not be fooled - there are a number of "lab" websites.  When you look deep enough- these are actually just collectors with little expertise in groundwater, water chemistry, and are not likely worth the money.