Friday, October 26, 2012


 For Immediate Release
Contact: Mr. Brian Oram, PG – 570-335-1947-


Residents of Rural Northwest, PA & Southwest NY
Especially Columbus, Bear Lake, Clymer, Corry, Panama,
Lottsville, Wrightsville, Youngsville, Pittsfield, Spring Creek

Dallas, PA—October 26, 2012—Brian Oram, a professional geologist and soil scientist and founder of B.F. Environmental Consultants, announced today that his firm is conducting an outreach and education session on November 3, 2012 from 2 to 5 PM at the First United Methodist Church in Corry, PA.  The program will have only 1 hour of presentation and up to 2 hours of questions and answers.  The title of the presentation is “Getting the Waters Tested- The Marcellus Shale Factor – Working as a Community”.    This education event is sponsored by the Brokenstraw Watershed Council 501( c)(3), Caldwell Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited 501 ( c)(3), and B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc.  During the discussion, we will introduce the Citizens Groundwater and Surfacewater Database, a grassroots effort to track change in groundwater quality in Pennsylvania, plus discuss critical issues related to baseline water testing. To learn more about the Citizen Groundwater/ Surfacewater Database and other Grassroots Efforts or to schedule an outreach event, go to

About B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc.
B.F. Environmental Consultants, based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, has been providing professional geological, soils, hydrogeological, and environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists), environmental monitoring, overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/ commercial water supply sources; baseline water testing, conducting “certified baseline samplers training programs”,  environmental training/ professional training courses, and other environmental services. For more information about B.F. Environmental Consultants, visit and

1. Very nice groups
2. A lot of very good questions.
3. Lively discussion of why deep well injection seems the direction PA is heading.
4. Discussion related to the questionable use of old wells as recharge wells.
5. Less it is possible to get group discounts related to testing.
6. Powerpoint presentation will be available as a pdf file via - Probably by November 9, 2012.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting the Waters Tested - The Marcellus Shale Factor Northwest Pennsylvania and Southwest New York

Presentation in the Sanctuary"Getting the Waters Tested - The Marcellus Shale Factor"

Residents of Rural Northwest, PA & Southwest NY
Especially Columbus, Bear Lake, Clymer, Corry, Panama,
Lottsville, Wrightsville, Youngsville, Pittsfield, Spring Creek

JOIN US on Saturday, November 3rd   2 to 5 PM           
First United Methodist Church
650 Worth Street
Corry, PA 16407

From Route 6– turn South on to Worth St. at Car Wash and Perkins                                                                                                                                                  Church 1/4 mile on Left (east)                                                                                                                      

The Importance of Baseline Testing
What Parameters, When, How Often
The Process - What is Chain of Custody
Critical Issues Related to Natural Gas Development
Role of Citizen Monitoring (Surfacewater and Groundwater)
Working as a Community

SPEAKER- Brian Oram of B.F.Environmental Consultants
Licensed Professional Geologist & Soil Scientist
with 20 years experience in
Applied Earth and Environmental Sciences
1- hour Presentation
UP to 2 Hours - Question and Answers

Sponsors: Brokenstraw Watershed Council 501 ( c)(3)
Caldwell Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited 501 ( c)(3)
Brokenstraw Watershed Council & Caldwell Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited have not and will not receive any monetary or  material benefits from this effort. We are introducing baseline water testing options that are more affordable for our community . 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MSC Issues Guidance on Responding to Stray Gas Incidents

MSC Issues Guidance on Responding to Stray Gas Incidents
Fourth in a series on recommended practices for responsible natural gas development
Pittsburgh, PA Today, the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) published its Recommended Practices for Responding to Stray Gas Incidents, the fourth in a series of such guidance documents. Stray gas -- which can originate from various sources, including coal beds, oil and natural gas wells, landfills, pipelines, naturally occurring methane and microbial gas -- is the migration of gas from one of these sources into groundwater, a structure, surface water and soil. There is a long, well-document history of stray gas incidents occurring in rural communities across the country, including many areas throughout Appalachia.
“Over the past several years, our industry has frequently identified the presence of stray gas during pre-drill baseline water surveys,” said MSC president Kathryn Klaber. “This document provides detailed steps that operators can take when stray gas is encountered – from developing proper plans of action, to notification of regulators as well as initial response actions and performing site reconnaissance surveys. Each of these key steps helps ensure that public safety and environmental concerns are mitigated and resolved in a responsible and timely manner.”

Stray gas can be influenced by a number of factors, including changes in barometric pressure, soil and bedrock permeability, temperature contrasts and other weather related conditions, such as rain or snow among others.

When responding to a stray gas incident, maintaining lines of communication with state regulators, local officials, first responders and homeowners is crucial. Depending on the identified levels and location of the methane, oil and natural gas producers can take a number of steps based upon initial response and assessment. Should stray gas be detected in a structure, ventilation and methane-specific alarms may be installed as a precautionary measure.

Similarly, vents may also be installed if methane is detected in water wells at heightened levels. When dissolved methane is detected in a water source servicing a structure, operators should consider providing an alternate water source until additional testing is completed to determine the source of the stray gas.

“Our organization, as laid out in our Guiding Principles, is committed to operational transparency and environmental protection,” continued Klaber. “This product will further assist operators in addressing cases of stray gas when encountered. Core to this document is the importance of safety of our employees, contractors and the general public.”

To review this full document online, click HERE

Our Website On Methane Gas Migration and some pdf files on the subject

Our New Booklet for Private Well Owners

Monday, October 15, 2012

Floating Treatment Wetlands Stormwater BMP- Free Webinar

Floating Treatment Wetlands
Stormwater BMP

Free - Webinar 

Friday, October 19, 2012 at 11am EST
Submit your request to join this free webinar

On Friday, October 19, we will be hosting another Free Webinar.  This session will focus on Floating Treatment Wetlands as a highly effective BMP for managing watershed water quality.  

For those who attended our webinars this past summer, this one will provide updated information but it will also cover the same core basics.  Once again this webinar is free, and you can invite as many others as you like.  We recommend/encourage inviting scientists, engineers, facility/municipality managers, and anyone interested in improving our water quality.

This webinar is scheduled for Friday, October 19 at 11am EST.  To join this free webinar, send an email requesting "log on" information to:  24 hours prior to the webinar session, you will be sent an email with the log in information and password needed to join.  If you have already asked to be included for this webinar, you done need to do it again and you will get an email reply later in the week.

Please note - you must have the "log in" information that is provided by the webinar software ilinc.  About 24 hours prior to the session, you will get an email from the ilinc software that will provide you with your unique log in information.  If you have any questions, please call (888) 660-3473. 

24 hours prior to the webinar, you will receive the log on information and password to join this free webinar.
BioHaven® Floating Islands biomic nature and provide a "concentrated wetland effect" that can help solve many environmental problems challenging our water and wildlife. Unlike natural or constructed wetlands, they can be launched in any depth of water and are unaffected by varying water levels.
Floating Island SE
(FISE) is an exclusive and licensed manufacturer of BioHaven Floating Islands and this proprietary technology.  FISE works with universities, municipalities, government agencies, engineering firms, and various environmental strategic partners to design and sell customized solutions that leverage the BioHaven Floating Island technology.

More Online Training Courses available at
Soils, Wetlands, Engineering, Geology, Health and Safety, Surveying,
GIS, GPS,  and More.

DEP alters policy on foul-water notifications - Just my thoughts

Not my work - but this was emailed to me.
October 14, 2012 12:08 am
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The state Department of Environmental Protection has a new review policy for water contamination cases related to Marcellus Shale gas well operations that lets department administrators in Harrisburg instead of field offices decide whether residential water users should receive letters notifying them about problems.

The month-old policy hasn't stopped, held up or altered any contaminated-water determination letters. And the DEP said in response to questions that it would not result in delays to homeowners about water contamination.

However, critics are concerned that the policy allows high-level DEP officials in Harrisburg to decide not to issue, or delay issuing, contamination determination letters recommended by a field office. A decision not to make that determination could save drilling companies millions of dollars in groundwater remediation, water treatment or replacement costs, and lengthen the time it takes to fix the problems.

Prior to the change in policy, DEP water quality specialists would send samples to the state testing laboratory and review the results with department geologists. Then, based on those results, district offices would send contamination determination letters to the affected residents or property owners.

The new policy, instituted in mid-September, requires DEP field offices to instead send the contamination determinations to Harrisburg for review by top administrators, up to and including Scott Perry, deputy secretary of DEP's Office of Oil and Gas Management, and DEP Secretary Michael Krancer. The administrators then decide whether determination letters should be sent.

The policy was not publicly announced and was distributed in a brief, internal DEP email on Sept. 14 from Mr. Perry to four regional oil and gas field offices.

According to an email string obtained by the Post-Gazette, the policy requires those offices to send all positive water contamination reports to Harrisburg as a Major Action Advisory, "prior to issuing any water supply impact determination letter." The MAA designation means the matter goes to top administrators for review.

A follow-up email from one of the regional offices asks whether all DEP water quality test determinations, including those that show no contamination, should be forwarded to Harrisburg or only those showing contamination related to drilling operations.

The email response from Mr. Perry is, "I think it should be limited to positive determinations. If a negative determination may generate media interest please let me know, but you won't need to go through an MAA."
DEP sources, unwilling to speak on the record because of concerns about job security, say some DEP district office staffers are concerned about the policy, which would allow headquarters' officials to second guess their test-based contamination determinations.

A former DEP official also said the policy baffles him.
"The MAA used to be an advisory process but now it's an approval process," said George Jugovic Jr., chief executive officer of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, a statewide environmental advocacy group. He was a DEP regional director during the administration of Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell but resigned in September 2011 at the request of officials in the administration of Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican.

"Harrisburg is making a decision on the notification before action is taken," he said. "But it's supposed to be a scientific decision based on water test results and the law. What [science] expertise in that does Krancer have?"
In a written response to questions, DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said the department made the policy change as a result of a "recent" Environmental Hearing Board ruling that found that a department determination letter is an appealable action that deserves top-level review. He also said the "DEP takes very strong action in cases where oil and gas drilling causes methane migration."

The ruling Mr. Sunday referred to occurred in May and said that a Washington County resident, Loren Kiskadden of Amwell, could appeal a negative DEP water testing determination, which he contended was inaccurate and incomplete.
In a follow-up response, Mr. Sunday said determination letters that don't show contamination as well as those that do will go through the MAA process. That contradicts the email exchange between Mr. Perry and Alan Eichler, program manager of DEP's oil and gas district office in Pittsburgh.

John Hanger, DEP secretary during the Rendell administration, said the DEP bears the burden of justifying why such a change was made to a science-based process that reported water test results "honestly and independently and professionally."
"The process wasn't broken. There was no abuse. The field staff is professional and careful and does a good job," Mr. Hanger said. "These determination letters should be based on good science. You can be concerned about the changes but there's no cases yet to indicate a problem. "However if we get down the road and see decisions that are different than the staff recommendations, that could be troubling."

The latest policy change follows the DEP's attempt in March 2011 to require that all field enforcement actions, also known as "Notices of Violations," or "NOVs," involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by administrators in Harrisburg. Staff in DEP field offices grumbled about the change as did environmental groups and businesses, causing the department to publicly roll back the policy after two months.

The number of water contamination determination letters issued by the DEP each year fluctuates depending on how many cases of private water supply contamination are reported and investigated and how widespread the contamination is. According to the DEP, water contamination letters related to Marcellus drilling and other oil and gas operations were sent to 57 individuals in 2010, 27 in 2011 and 19 so far this year.

According to Mr. Sunday, that data shows the industry's performance and compliance have improved, due to DEP enforcement actions and new regulations mandating stronger casing and cementing around wells.

In September, before the change in policy was announced, Range Resources, one of the state's largest drilling companies, had several meetings with DEP to contest water contamination letters sent to three property owners living near the company's Harman Lewis well in Lycoming County.

Range maintains its well is not linked to those water problems, which occurred from February through the summer, and the letters of determination delivered in early September did not allege a link.

The DEP determination letters do say the residential water supplies are contaminated, probably due to methane migration from Marcellus Shale gas drilling, but didn't name a specific source or company responsible for the contamination.
"When we saw the [contamination] letters we met with the DEP on multiple occasions. That's just part of the process," said Matt Pitzarella, a Range spokesman. adding that the department has not issued a violation notice or determined that Range caused the well contamination in the area.

"We've conducted our own investigation, brought in the best experts, and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that our gas well operations have nothing to do with this case."
According to the DEP, Range was cited in February 2012 for defective cement in casings at the well. The casing and cement which is located underground around the drill pipe is designed to act as a seal to prevent gas contamination of shallow groundwater. Its investigation is ongoing.

Jim Finkler who said his water began bubbling with methane in February and continued through this spring and summer, said he has been working with the DEP on the problem and was happy to receive the determination letter.
"I don't like the idea of someone in Harrisburg, who's not an expert, intervening one bit," said Mr. Finkler, who lives about a half mile from the Range well. He said he has not received replacement water from Range, although the company did install a vent on his well cap. "The letter should come from the science end of things, and that's where the determination should be made."
Don Hopey: or 412-263-1983.
First Published October 14, 2012 12:00 am

Overall - My comments
Assuming this is done for reasons that is get to the facts and make timely decisions:
1. This could be a good thing - if all notifications go to one place - then it may be possible to require that they be tracked, documented, and decisions released.  Therefore, this information should be available for review and be part of a file review process and the referrals should be tracked.

2. This would tend to take the pressure off the field staff and put it on the technical staff / professional staff at central office.  This would allow the field staff to provide a recommendations and then this recommendation gets reviewed.  This would give the finding more weight and additional support.

3. It would make responses more consistent and allow a rapid lessons learned by the reviewing team that would get a real-time statewide perspective.

4. There are experts in Central Office and as long as they are reviewing the recommendations and confirming the findings this would be a very good peer reviewed approach.

5. The process of identifying and fixing an issue is a slow process.  Each company should be required to implement a response and action plan.

My comments assume a lot.  Also, if a homeowner has a problem or questions they can always reach out to the Water Research Center or submit their data as part of the Citizens Database.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Outreach, Training Events, and Presentations Brian Oram 2011 2012

Recently Completed Lehigh valley Clean Water Summit -- Sourcewater Protection - Maintaining the Balance (9/2011) (1 mb)

Recently Completed PA State Nursing Association - Marcellus Shale - Unearthing Environmental Health Issues for Nurses(pdf of event)- "Getting the Waters Tested - The Marcellus Shale Factor - October 7, 2011- Link to Event.  Notes for Nurses - Final Presentation.

Recently Completed  - Wayne County Task Force 11/18/2011- Methane Gas Migration - Link to Local Story.

Recently Completed- New Getting the Waters Tested - The Marcellus Shale Factor - An Industry Perspective. November 4, 2011 - 9:00 - Noon - Hosted by Wilkes University - Webinar Will Be Available.

Recently Completed - November 14 and November 15, 2011 - 2011 Private Well Symposium - The importance for Fixing Private Wells in Pennsylvania - The Marcellus Shale Factor-Concurrent Session 3: Hydrofracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater (November 14, 2011 - 3:30 to 5:00 pm)- pdf version of presentation

Recently Completed - "Getting the Waters Tested- Working as a Community" - Dimock PA - Feb. 2, 2012 - - 6:00 - 8:00 pm- Host Enough is EnoughPresentation Video (Q/A Session)-    Presentation Video

Recently Completed - "Getting the Waters Tested - An Industry Perspective" - PIOGA Winter Conference - Feb. 8, 2012.

Recently Completed -  Getting the Waters Tested - The Marcellus Shale Factor - An Industry Perspective and How to Work With Private Well Owners and the Community. March 9, 2012- 9:00 - Noon - Hosted by Wilkes University  (Webinar may be available).

Recently Completed Presentation - PWEA Conference on Marcellus Shale - March 16, 2012.
Groundwater / Private Well Owner Education Events in Lackawanna County, PA - Event 1,
Event 2 (March 20, 2012), and Event 3 (April 24, 2012)

Recently Completed -Marcellus Shale for Young Adults (pdf) - Presentation for DCNR (March 2012)

Recently Completed -Marcellus Shale 201 -Lackawanna College- Outreach to Citizens and Private Well Owners - April 2012

Recently Completed -Fact Based Presentation for Girl Scouts in Carbon County, PA and Carbon County Groundwater Guardians- Marcellus Shale - Water Issues, Groundwater Quality, and Private Wells (May 2012)

Recently Completed -Nature Abounds - Meeting, QA Session, and Dialogue about Private Wells, Marcellus Shale Drilling, Toured a Local Well Site and More- The Forest Summit.

Internal Project -ON-GOING- A Fact Based Well by Well Review of the EPA Data for Dimock, PA.
Recently Completed - Franklin Forks, PA - Introduction to Groundwater, Private Wells, Groundwater Quality, The Citizens Database, and Methane Gas Migration - Working as a Community to Make Positive Change, June 2012.

NEW - Certified Sampler Training Program - July 28, 2012, Cleveland, Ohio - Register by
June 29, 2012- Flier.  To register, contact Marianne Metzger 800-458-3330 or

August 5, 2012 - Presentation on Black Shale Unconventional Gas in Lithuania - Lessons Learned in the United States - Presented to Simonas Satunas - Deputy Chief of Mission and Evaldas Stankevicius - First Lithuanian Cultural Attache to the United States, Scranton Chamber, and Local Watershed Groups.   The event ended with a tour of natural gas drilling and development activities in Susquehanna County, PA.

Guidelines for Minimizing Respirable Silica Exposure in Hydraulic Fracturing

There are many tools available to support your efforts to improve worker safety. In addition to the links below, your workers compensation insurance carrier may be an excellent resource.

OSHA/NIOSH Hazard Alert:
OSHA Chemical Sampling Webpage:
OSHA Guide to Respiratory Protection:
NIOSH Silica Webpage:
OSHA Silica Webpage:
OSHA Hazard Communication Webpage:
OSHA Access to Medical and Exposure Records:

Most areas that have active oil and gas activities also have professional organizations and groups. Just to name a few:

National STEPS Networks (Service, Transmission, Exploration and Production Safety) which promotes safety, health and environmental improvement in oil, gas and energy-related industries.

NIOSH’s Health Hazard Evaluation program (
 Field Effort to Assess Chemical Exposure Risks to Oil and Gas Workers

For Online Training Courses -

Program 1: Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)- OSHA Accepted Courses

New Program - Training Course for Well Drillers (0il and Gas Industry- 4 hour course)
Crystalline Silica - Silicosis- Safety Training Video
Mining Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) (Refresher)

Source=Silica Short Term Solutions Working Group Sept 2012 v1

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Chain of Custody and Baseline Testing in Pennsylvania

Chain of Custody and Baseline Testing in Pennsylvania
Lessons Learned and History for Our Area

The Workshop will cover:

1. Introduction into Natural Gas Development – Geology, Process, Chemicals
2. Private Wells – A brief summary of Private Well Regulations in Pennsylvania
3. Quick Summary of Common Water Treatment Systems and Problems Experienced by Private Well Owners
4. Process and Goals of Baseline Testing

  • What We Learned from Dimock, Franklin Forks, and other Areas.
  • What We Learned from the Citizens Groundwater Database.
  • Suggested Baseline Testing Parameters

5. Chain of Custody – When does it begin? Where are the common holes in the process?
6. Reviewing the Data and Using the Data to Generate Additional Work

Instructor: Brian Oram is a Professional Geologist and Soil Scientist with B.F. Environmental Consultants. He is a licensed professional geologist, licensed Well Driller, Professional Soil Scientist, and licensed Sewage Enforcement Officer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with over 20 years experience in conducting hydrogeological investigations related to water supply development, contaminant migration, wetland mitigation, and land based wastewater disposal systems.

Thursday, November 29, 2012
5-8 PM Light refreshments will be provided
Cost: $85
PDH Hours: 3
Registration Deadline: November 26, 2012

Soil Morphology Stormwater and Wastewater Management Pennsylvania Training

Soil Morphology/Stormwater and
Wastewater Management Training Course

Introduction to Soil Science and Soil Morphology for Engineers, PA Sewage Enforcement Officers  Geologists, and other Professionals.for Engineers, PA Sewage Enforcement Officers  Geologists, and other Professionals.

The course will provide an introduction into the environmental applications of soil science and soil morphology. During the presentation portion of the course, we will discuss the properties and characteristics of a soil, soil formation/ transformation, and soil hydrology. During the field portion of the course, we will be learning how to describe some of the physical properties of a soil (soil texture, structure, consistency, color), identifying soil horizons, and make interpretations related to the movement of water through the soil profile as it relates to on-site wastewater disposal and stormwater management.

Instructor: Brian Oram is a Professional Geologist and Soil Scientist with B.F. Environmental Consultants. He is a licensed professional geologist, licensed Well Driller, Professional Soil Scientist, and licensed Sewage Enforcement Officer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with over 20 years experience in conducting hydrogeological investigations related to water supply development, contaminant migration, wetland mitigation, and land based wastewater disposal systems.

Friday, November 9, 2012
9 AM-5 PM
Cost: $310
PDH Hours: 8
Registration Deadline: November 5, 2012

Save Energy and Money - Whole House Energy Auditing

October 3, 2012
Contact:           Deana Kilmer
                        President, Green Field Energy Solutions
                        (570) 876-0537


On Thursday, October 18, 2012, 6:30-8:00, Green Field Energy Solutions will continue educational workshops as part of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Environmental Education Grants Program at Lackawanna College Environmental Institute, Covington Township.  The program will provide a lecture to discuss the Energy audit process and provide information on current rebate programs with local utilities.  Green Field Energy will also offer a $50 rebate for 10 clients that complete an Energy Audit by 11/30/12. For more information please log on to or call (570)876-0537.

For more energy saving devices, go to Green Living Store or to Check Out Your Water Quality