Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Need to Work as a Community - a Shale Gas, Energy and Environmental Perspective

Need to Work as a Community
by Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist
The Water Research Center and B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.

I am not an insider in the natural gas development process, but I am a citizen and professional geologist from Pennsylvania.  I grew-up  in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania in the middle of the largest Anthracite Coal Fields in the World and became exposed to environmental issues while playing and living on abandon coal mine lands and near acid impacted streams.  After attending Wilkes University and Pennsylvania State University, I worked as an environmental consultant and then ran a research laboratory at Wilkes University.   After 23 years of running and conducting research, I decided to concentrate on my private consulting practice and other public education programs through B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. and the Water Research Center.  For the record, I have no master service agreements with any natural gas company and the views posted here are mine. 

The phrase “Working as a Community” comes out of my talk titled “Getting the Waters Tested- The Marcellus Shale Factor”.  The development of the Marcellus and Utica Shale has brought to the surface a little known fact that up to 50 % of private well owners are drinking water that would not meet one or more drinking water standards and the existing private wells are improperly placed and poorly constructed.   These pre-existing problems include corrosive and aggressive water, iron, manganese, bacteria, arsenic, salt, saline water, barium, strontium, some organic compounds, radon, and yes Methane Gas.   This fact,   in combination, with inadequate baseline testing has resulted in a significant amount of confusion, misinformation, and un-needed delays to meet the needs of a private well owner.  We need to start working together to move forward as a community.  To start working as a community, I am recommending the following path:

1. Join the Pennsylvania Forum for Private Well Owners (It is not about shale or energy-it is about groundwater quality)- Part of the solution – must include fixing private wells.

2. If you have baseline testing data, submit the data to the Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database or if you do not know what the data means you can ask for help –Assistance is Free.

3. Participate in the Private Well Owner and Watershed Survey for Pennsylvania- (Another Free Program)

4. Host a local Community Workshop and Education Session for Private Well Owners and for Royalty Owners and Watershed Groups it may be worth helping to Develop a Local Watershed Monitoring Program.

5. Get the facts – A well by well review of the data from Dimock, PA – A NO Spin Zone – Fact based Reviews Only.

This is a positive step in the Right Direction.  It is time to start working together.   It is time to get educated, informed, and start working together.  Free information can be found on any of our portals and all of work is funded by us.    For a free booklet on drinking water quality for private well owners – visit our webportal and download a free copy of the 2009 booklet.  We are anticipating a new booklet will be available in a few months.

Thanks for your time,

Brian Oram, PG
Citizen of Pennsylvania


  1. I've always believed in a strong sense of honesty to my self, and own well-being that in the sense- I will never drink well-water. I knew that there was no possible way for it to be at all like spring water or anything really that safe, but when I read this my face just got longer, and longer, until my jaw dropped and realized what could've been in some of my neighbor's well's that they drink from. We do need to band together.

    -Sharone Tal

    1. I will not say never drink the well water - but get it tested. Free Information on drinking water can be found at