Thursday, August 25, 2011

Community Information Presentations Concerning: The Water We Drink, Private Wells and Marcellus Shale Community Education

Community Information Presentations Concerning:

The Water We Drink

Open to the Public,
Reserve a seat with an email to WATER@ELROSE.ORG or call 570 663 2346

Date: Thursday September 1, 2011
Time: 6:30 PM to 8:30 PA
Location: Silver Lake Municipal Building, Wilkes Barre Tpke

Brackney, PA 18812

Three Speakers from Wilkes University

Institute for Energy and Environmental Research of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Brian Oram- Professional Geologist - B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.

Title: Getting the Water Tested- The Marcellus Shale Factor
This is a review of the local geology and baseline water quality for the region. The program discusses challenges that face private well owners prior to or outside of issues related to Marcellus Shale and additional concerns related to Marcellus Shale development. The presentation will highlight the available water quality data for the region, how groundwater can be protected, actions that can be taken by citizens, resources that are available for citizens, and general information on baseline testing for your private water source and water resources.
This talk will be a preliminary presentation of our work in Susquehanna county and will demonstrate the differences in the analysis data from continuous monitoring and grab sampling. We will also discuss how a citizen’s monitoring program can supplement larger programs.

Dr. Tom Barnard – IEER Director: Water Monitoring in Susquehanna County
At Wilkes University, the IEER is building a database of historical and ongoing surface water monitoring programs in the region potentially impacted by Marcellus gas production activities. The sponsoring programs include the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, United States Geological Survey, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, county conservation districts, researchers and volunteer watershed associations. We are using geospatial analysis tools to analyze how watershed characteristics, land uses, and human activities impact water quality. These will be used to evaluate the ability of current monitoring programs to detect and quantify the impacts of gas production on small and medium size streams in Pennsylvania. We will conduct monitoring at locations where gaps exist.

Erich Schramm – IEER Community Outreach Coordinator
History and mission of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research of Northeastern Pennsylvania
84 W South Street
Wilkes Barre, PA 18766

570) 408-5543 (office)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

USGS Releases New Assessment of Gas Resources in the Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin - 84 Tillion cubic feet

Press Release from US Dept of Interior, US Geological Survey from this am:
USGS Releases New Assessment of Gas Resources in the Marcellus Shale, Appalachian Basin

Released: 8/23/2011 11:30:00 AM
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
The Marcellus Shale contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids according to a new assessment by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS).

These gas estimates are significantly more than the last USGS assessment of the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian Basin in 2002, which estimated a mean of about 2 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCF) and 0.01 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
The increase in undiscovered, technically recoverable resource is due to new geologic information and engineering data, as technological developments in producing unconventional resources have been significant in the last decade. This Marcellus Shale estimate is of unconventional (or continuous-type) gas resources.

Since the 1930's, almost every well drilled through the Marcellus found noticeable quantities of natural gas. However, in late 2004, the Marcellus was recognized as a potential reservoir rock, instead of just a regional source rock, meaning that the gas could be produced from it instead of just being a source for the gas. Technological improvements resulted in commercially viable gas production and the rapid development of a major, new continuous natural gas and natural gas liquids play in the Appalachian Basin, the oldest producing petroleum province in the United States.
This USGS assessment is an estimate of continuous gas and natural gas liquid accumulations in the Middle Devonian Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin. The estimate of undiscovered natural gas ranges from 43.0 to 144.1 TCF (95 percent to 5 percent probability, respectively), and the estimate of natural gas liquids ranges from 1.6 to 6.2 billion barrels (95 percent to 5 percent probability, respectively). There are no conventional petroleum resources assessed in the Marcellus Shale of the Appalachian Basin.
These new estimates are for technically recoverable oil and gas resources, which are those quantities of oil and gas producible using currently available technology and industry practices, regardless of economic or accessibility considerations. As such, these estimates include resources beneath both onshore and offshore areas (such as Lake Erie) and beneath areas where accessibility may be limited by policy and regulations imposed by land managers and regulatory agencies.

The Marcellus Shale assessment covered areas in Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

USGS is the only provider of publicly available estimates of undiscovered technically recoverable oil and gas resources of onshore lands and offshore state waters. The USGS worked with the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, the Ohio Geological Survey, and representatives from the oil and gas industry and academia to develop an improved geologic understanding of the Marcellus Shale. The USGS Marcellus Shale assessment was undertaken as part of a nationwide project assessing domestic petroleum basins using standardized methodology and protocol.
The new assessment of the Marcellus Shale may be found online. The previous Marcellus Shale assessment can be found online. To find out more about USGS energy assessments and other energy research, please visit the USGS Energy Resources Program website

More on the Marcellus


Friday, August 19, 2011

Pennsylvania Well Owners, Watershed Groups, and Lake Associations - We need your help!

This survey is part of the efforts of Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist, and owner of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc to help educate and inform the community.  The survey will not be published and all information is confidential. 

Part of this survey will be used to create a new booklet that helps educate private well owners and policy makers in our community- direct educational and informational programs. 

This survey is not funded by any outside company or organization and solely funded by Mr. Brian Oram.

Citizens Unite - Compile Your Water Quality Data - PA NEEDS YOUR Help

Citizens - there are more private wells than public water supplies in Pennsylvania.  In many regions, the natural gas companies have conducted baseline testing and have returned the data to you.  The problem is that the industry has the data and can easily compile, but for citizens they are lacking an explanation of the data and it is not being compiled.  We need to work together to protect our groundwater and surfacewater resources.

To help - send NO Money - All that is being asked is as follows:

1. Send a copy of your water quality data or host a community meeting where the water quality data could be compiled.  To request a community meeting - email or
Please put Citizen Database in Subject.

2. Release the data to the Citizens Groundwater / Surfacewater Database at Wilkes University.  Here is the information sheet.
3. Email the information to the addresses above or send a hardcopy to

Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Citizen Outreach Program
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612

4. You get a review of your data for free and you can be sure your data will help track water quality change in the region.

Also - Let Your Voice be Heard on Marcellus Issues - Complete the
New Marcellus Shale Survey for Watershed Groups and Private Well Owners
Information is being used to update a NEW Free Booklet on Groundwater - We really need YOUR input.

To learn more about this FREE Program - Go Here NOW !

Please act now. 
Thanks for your consideration

Brian Oram, PG

marcellus shale groundwater contamination ?

Marcellus Shale Commission Issues Final Report- Released by PADEP

Marcellus Shale Commission Issues Final Report


Marcellus Shale Commission Issues Final Report

HARRISBURG — Lt. Governor Jim Cawley today released the final report of the Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission, taking the first step toward developing a comprehensive and strategic plan for responsible natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania.

The unanimously-adopted report contains 96 policy recommendations that include tougher regulations for drilling, doubling fines for violations, creating jobs in related industries and promoting the use of natural gas vehicles.

“Today, Pennsylvania is taking an important, first step toward creating tens of thousands of jobs and leading the nation toward energy independence and doing so in an environmentally responsible way,” said Cawley.
Some of the key recommendations the panel made to Governor Corbett include:

• Increasing the distance between gas well sites and streams, private wells and public water systems.
• Posting more information online for the public.
• Tougher civil and criminal penalties for violators.
• Assisting PA companies to do business with natural gas industry.
• Training Pennsylvanians to work in the industry.
• Developing “Green Corridors” for vehicles powered by natural gas.

“This commission brought the industry, environmental groups and local government leaders together to the same table where we methodically and publicly worked out these comprehensive recommendations,” said Cawley.

Governor Corbett formed the 30-member commission in March, giving them 120 days to develop recommendations on all aspects of natural gas drilling. The commission held 21 public meetings, heard 60 expert presentations and reviewed more than 650 emails and letters from the public.

To see a copy of the report summary go to:

What about?
1. Supporting alternative energy and conservation?
2. Fixing private wells - state or a local government program?
3. Updating sourcewater protection plans?
4. Reviewing and Compiling all this water quality data?
5. Educating the Community ?
6. Developing Public / Private Partnerships to conduct comprehensive baseline testing?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Democratic Policy Committee Hearing August 2011 Testimony by Brian Oram geologist and citizen of Pennsylvania

My name is Brian Oram and I wanted to thank you for this opportunity. I am a licensed professional geologist, owner of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. and a lifelong resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am here today as a citizen of Pennsylvania.

I would like to start of with two statements.

1. Methane Gas Migration- The recent updates to Chapter 78- Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Law will go a long way to aid in preventing future cases of methane gas migration and the well reporting requirements includes language that requires listing of the quantity and type of chemicals used as part of the Well Reporting Process. This requirement appears to meet the informational goal of the proposed legislation HR 1084. In addition, the industry has responded to the need to disclose this information through the creation of “FracFocus”-  FracFocus, the hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website. This website is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission- I have attached a copy of a report that was available for a well in Bradford County PA..
Changes - Well Control, Well Construction (casing and cementing operations), Mechanical Integrity of Existing Wells, Gas Migration Response, and Well Reporting

2. Hydrofracturing is regulated by the EPA via the Underground Injection Control Program when diesel fluids are used as part of the frac mixture or in Alabama when coal-bed methane is being developed.

Talking Points and Points of Concern

1. I do not believe that the hydrofracturing process as being employed by the natural gas companies that have released information on the chemicals used for unconventional natural gas development needs to be regulated under the UIC program, but there should be a Memorandum of Understanding between PADEP and EPA. The EPA needs to be notified and informed of natural gas drilling permits to ensure that these permits will not conflict with EPA mandates and existing programs. In addition, it would be advisable that the unconventional natural gas wells be constructed to meet the requirements of Class II injection wells, since we may need to utilizes these secure boreholes in the future.

I do believe that hydrofracturing of formations for gas development above the Marcellus Shale and hydrofracturing for coal-bed methane development should be regulated and permitted by the UIC program in PA.

2. The current PADEP regulations, i.e., Chapter 78, may not be consistent with the requirements to protect Drinking Water as provided by the Safe Drinking Water Act and UIC Program. Pennsylvania protects freshwater < 3000 mg/L, but EPA protects freshwater and “useable Quality Water” or potential freshwater, i.e., water with a TDS of 3,000 to 10,000 mg/L ( water that is 99 % pure). The current PADEP regulations may not adequately protect this potentially usable water, but more importantly, the formations that contain this water may be the pathways that helps facilitate methane gas migration, the PADEP standards need to be updated to be consistent with the EPA Program.

3. The regulations, i.e., Chapter 78, need to be more proactive and not only require baseline testing, but real-time monitoring of “freshwater wells”, natural saline seeps, and other features during the drilling and development process. This monitoring would likely include general water quality, water level, radon flux, and methane flux. This would provide an early warning system before a major release occurs and/or confirmation that the process is safe.

4. Since private well owners do not have the ability to develop sourcewater or wellhead protection plans, the permitting process should put in place contingency plans to properly and quickly respond to incidents of methane gas migration or other releases. When contamination or releases do occur, the site, groundwater, and/or soils need to be evaluated, clean-up, and monitored.

For community water supplies – these systems should develop sourcewater protection plans and wellhead protection plans that apply to all industries and not just natural gas development. In general, the local sourcewater protection plans for the reservoirs that service major cities in Northeastern Pennsylvania are inadequate and out-of-date.

5. Citizens need to be informed of this process and this process should be relatively easy to follow. Since citizens are not accustom to requesting file reviews or travelling to a regional PADEP office to review permit applications, a copy the PADEP permits for natural gas wells should be maintained at a local office, such as the local municipality or county office.

6. No waiver should be granted if the natural gas well is within 100 feet of a stream, wetland, or body of water. There should be no waiver for drilling a natural gas well within 200 feet of a private well. The private well may be owned by a citizen, but the well is connected to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

7. It is sad to say, but 30 to 50 % of private wells currently do not meet drinking water standards, we should take advantage of this opportunity to fix private wells using funding from consumptive water permits, permit fees, and fines. Fixing private wells is a benefit to the wellowner, the residents of PA, and the Natural Gas Industry. Poorly sited and poorly constructed private wells may act as a conduit to facilitate the migration of gas and other fluids. We have to remember – we all live downstream.

8.Regarding well cutting disposal, if encapsulation or on-site disposal is proposed, this activity and other natural gas activity should be outlined in the deed for the property along with the coordinates of the buried infrastructure.

9. Regulations are only as good as the enforcement. To encourage companies to adhere to regulations, the fines should be significant. We need to start adding zeros. Please remember – one well can generate over 30,000 per day in profit to the company. They can afford to do this work the right way.

10. Since the mission of PADEP is not to compile and interpret water quality data and information, it is critical that some organization or network of organizations work together to compile the environmental monitoring data that is generated by this activity. This information needs to be compiled and presented in a manner that is readily available to the public and in a language that will educate and inform.
With this goal in mind, I have been working with Wilkes University/ Dr. Brian Redmond/ Dr. Sid Halsor to compile the Citizen Groundwater and Surfacewater Database and we have utilized this database to conduct an initial groundwater vulnerability analysis for a portion of Luzerne County. With additional work, this type of analysis may help to identify regions or zones more susceptible to contamination from any surface, near surface, or subsurface activity.

Outside of the Marcellus Shale Issues -
We need to make sure that Pennsylvania develops a set of private well construction standards and encourages municipalities to develop land-use and zoning ordinances.
Again thank you for this opportunity and I will do my best to answer any questions.

Prepared by:
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612

Friday, August 12, 2011

Marcellus Shale and Private Wells - Getting the Waters Tested

It is critical that baseline testing data be conducted and compiled and that private well owners understand the quality of their water.  To help meet this objective, B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc has conducted the following:

1. Worked with Wilkes University to create a booklet on Water Quality
2. Prepared a listing of recommend test parameters and conducting and education outreach program.
3. Working on Compiling a Citizens Groundwater Database with Wilkes University.

We could use your help.  Please consider filling out our online survey related to private wells and marcellus shale.


Appreciate your time and interest.

marcellus shale groundwater contamination?