Update On Dead Cows In Caddo Parish
by Erica Bennett
Thursday, May 7, 2009 @06:16pm CST
“The scene of a cow pasture in south Caddo Parish Wednesday was calm, uneventful and peaceful. But, that was not the case a week ago. A spill from a natural gas well caused at least 20 cows to drop dead.
. . . . .
“C.C. Canady is head over the United Neighbors for Oil and Gas Rights in south Caddo Parish. Canady says other animals have died near this site before, and they’ve had problems with the oil and gas companies for quite some time.
“Tammy Sepulvado’s 3 day old calf died the same day the other cows did. She says she has alot of money invested in her animals, so she can’t afford anymore problems from the nearby drilling site.
. . . . .
“Early tests by the Department of Environmental Quality revealed high levels of chloride in and adjacent to the cow pasture. DEQ representatives tell us Chesapeake Energy or Shlumberger are responsible.
“‘The only thing that we’re really waiting on is something definitive of who it was - somebody did have a release. After that we will take some kime of enforcement action,’ Otis Randle with the DEQ said.”
“We asked Chesapeake Energy if it was responsible for the spill and a representative sent us this response. ‘All results are preliminary and inconclusive, so it would be innappropriate at this time to speculate on the cause of death and responsible party.’
“The DEQ is expecting their results back sometime Wednesday or Thursday. Once they’re in, they’ll know what exact chemical killed the cows and who is responsible.”
An e-mail from one citizen & taxpayer to Barbara Fiala:
I am writing in regard to Broome County’s decision to hire a lobbyist
to urge Albany not to get “bogged down” in its environmental review of
drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
The shale gas drilling techniques that have come into use over the
last decade were developed in an atmosphere of very poor regulatory
control. A May 19 press release on hydrofracturing from Congressman
“More than 1,000 cases of contamination have been documented by
courts and state and local governments in New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio,
Texas, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. In one case, a house exploded after
hydraulic fracturing created underground passageways and methane
seeped into the residential water supply.
A 2004 EPA study, which was haphazardly conducted with a bias
toward a desired outcome, concluded that fracturing did not pose a
risk to drinking water. However, Hinchey noted that the more than
1,000 reported contamination incidents have cast significant doubt on
the report’s findings and the report’s own body contains damaging
information that wasn’t mentioned in the conclusion. In fact, the
study foreshadowed many of the problems now being reported across the
We have recently seen drilling-related methane contamination of water
wells in nearby Dimock, PA. Questions still remain as to exactly how
the water in Dimock became contaminated. Once an aquifer is
contaminated, it may be extremely difficult or even impossible to
clean it up. Fortunately, so far, no one has been killed by the
drilling-related explosions that have occurred in water wells, and, in
one case, in a home. But there is certainly no guarantee that we will
continue to be that lucky.
It is often said that New York’s environmental regulations regarding
drilling are superior to those of other states, but a review of the NY
regulations does not bear out that claim. For example, NY’s setbacks
from residences and bodies of water are much smaller than those in
many other areas. Water is becoming increasingly precious as shortages
occur around the world and in other parts of our own country. Areas
possessing clean water are likely to be increasingly desirable in the
future. Our water is our area’s most valuable natural resource and we
should not endanger it.
Last summer and fall, the NYSDEC demonstrated that it did NOT have a
good grasp of the multiple issues involved in shale gas drilling.
Rather, it was members of the public and of local environmental groups
who researched the damage that has occurred from this type of gas
drilling in other areas and then made the NYSDEC aware of that damage
through the informational meetings and draft scope SGEIS hearings held
by the NYSDEC. The NYSDEC received thousands of comments on its draft
scope. Many, many of those comments were NOT in support of drilling.
I do not believe that the NYSDEC is getting bogged down in
bureaucracy. They are understaffed and do not have the resources
needed to deal with this issue in a truly thorough manner. Even if
they had sufficient resources, the environmental review would still
require a great deal of care and time. This is an extremely complex
and technical issue; the drilling’s impacts will be long-lasting and
wide-ranging and are likely to negatively affect not only our water,
but our air, the health of our forests and farmlands, the nature and
desirability of our communities, and the health of our people.
Many Broome County residents are not in favor of this drilling. While
the pro-drilling landowners’ groups may be well organized, it is
important to recognize that most of the residents of this county do
not own large tracts of land, will see little or no financial gain
from the drilling, and may suffer serious personal and financial
losses if their quality of life, their health, and/or the value of
their homes are negatively impacted by the drilling.
I would also like to point out that the current price of natural gas
is quite low, that some experts expect it to remain low for some time,
and that the first few years of production are usually the highest for
any given shale gas well. It is therefore quite likely that if Broome
County’s land is drilled in the near future, the county will be
selling a large fraction of its recoverable gas at bargain-basement
We have all seen the results of the TCE contamination in Endicott. Our
area does not need more of the same. Frankly, given the track record
of the gas industry and the high well density needed to recover
appreciable amounts of gas from the Marcellus Shale, it seems
extremely likely that Broome County will end up with a number of
seriously contaminated drilling sites, several areas in which homes
have no reliable water supply, poor air quality, a loss of green
space, lowered residential property values in areas where drilling
occurs, a loss of residents who prefer not to live in an
industrialized area, difficulty attracting new and highly skilled
residents to the area, additional costly health problems among its
residents, and probably a whole host of unforeseen problems as well.
We should not rush into this. The gas is not going anywhere. And I
would add that, in any case, the gas industry is well able to afford
its own lobbyists.
For all of the reasons explained above, I do not think it is in Broome
County’s best interest to spend taxpayer dollars to hire a lobbyist to
push for gas drilling.
Five Natural Gas Workers Hospitalized After Exposure to Acid
NEW MARTINSVILLE, WV – According to WTRF-TV, as of May 20, five men were under observation in Wetzel County Hospital after being exposed to what Chesapeake Energy called “battery acid.”
The station reported “Chesapeake Energy says there was no fire at the well site, just ‘an incident in which they were exposed to a material in the drilling process.’”
From the story:
“Wetzel County Hospital was set up with lights, sirens and a decontamination unit in the parking lot.
“At 10:15 a.m., the hospital was given a heads-up that they had five patients coming in, who had been exposed to commercial battery acid from a methane well drilling accident.
“‘They were pumping the material into the well site and apparently it splashed back onto the individuals and it also vaporized, creating the problem that we had here today,’ said Chief Larry Couch with the New Martinsville Fire Department.
“‘We were able to set up a decontamination unit, bring in additional medical staff, and actually we had five doctors on hand at the time when the patients arrived,’ said George Couch, Wetzel County Hospital CEO. “I think it was chemical exposure. I couldn’t assess any serious chemical burns. Appeared to be some respiratory distress.”
“New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil had to hold back curious onlookers….
. . . . .
“According to Hospital CEO George Couch, all five employees are admitted for observation and are all in fair condition.
“Chesapeake Energy says the well site has been secured and is no danger to the public.
“Several agencies are reportedly investigating.”
Here’s what one commenter had to say about the story:
“I’ve been a professional chemist for twenty-eight years, with a degree from West Virginia University, and this would be the first instance I’ve encountered where “commercial battery acid” (AKA sulfuric acid) could produce the kinds of vapors cited in this story.
“I believe that Chesapeake Energy should have referred to the material by its proper name: hydrochloric acid, which is very commonly used in the well development process.
“Why did they choose to lie about this?”
“The regulatory agencies that are supposed to be the people’s watchdogs are acting instead as the industry’s guard dogs,” said Willie Dodson of Mountain Justice, one of the Kayford protesters. “Neither Governor Manchin, the DEP, President Obama, nor the EPA are enforcing the law, so we have no choice but to come out here and do it ourselves.”
May 14, 2009 – Encana buries frack pit waste onsite – right over a drinking water source.
Colorado regulators are asleep at the switch.
New York’s DEC inspectors are required to visit well sites just 3 times: before work begins, when the surface casing is cemented, and after the site is “reclaimed.”
You thinking what I’m thinking?
FORESTVILLE, Md. – Five firefighters and one gas company employee were burned in an apparent natural gas explosion at a shopping center in Forestville. Some were seriously burned, but they have not said if any of the injuries were life threatening. All six have been transported to the Washington Hospital Center’s burn unit.
As many as a dozen were injured, the other six were hit by shrapnel from the explosion.
According to Prince George’s County Fire and EMS spokesperson Mark Brady, the fire department received a call around 12:30 p.m. Thursday for a report of a natural gas leak. They arrived at 3426 Donnell Drive and evacuated the building. Sometime after that, the explosion occurred.
Brady reports that a flash fire burned the firefighters and gas company employee. The building was heavily damaged, so no one has been able to go in and search to make sure everyone got out. Brady says they are hoping everyone was taken out in the initial evacuation.
N E W S R E L E A S E COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Northwest Regional Office
230 Chestnut St.
Meadville, PA 16335
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phone: (814) 332-6816
DEP IDENTIFIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR BRADFORD TOWNSHIP GAS MIGRATION/WATER SUPPLY PROBLEMS
MEADVILLE – The Department of Environmental Protection has determined that Schreiner Oil and Gas Company has affected at least seven water supplies along Hedgehog Lane in Bradford Township, McKean County, and has notified the company of its responsibilities to those residents.
Two of the water supplies were affected by methane and five supplies have iron and manganese above established drinking water standards.
Schreiner has been actively drilling combination oil and gas wells in the area since last fall and did not establish background water quality in the area prior to drilling. Therefore, Schreiner is presumed responsible for restoring water supplies within 1,000 feet of the drill sites.
Last week DEP also issued a notice of violation to Schreiner for failure to submit well records in a timely manner, the second notice of violation that the company has received regarding this issue.
“On Thursday, we notified the affected residents that Schreiner will be taking measures to restore or replace their water supplies,” said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. “It is our intention that this action will resolve the water issue for residents who have been living with major inconvenience and disruption.”
At this time, the operator is providing bottle water to many of the residents in the affected area.
On April 30, DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch met with about 30 neighborhood residents to discuss their worries about water quality, concerns associated with a natural gas stripper plant installed behind some of the homes, and accelerated erosion and sedimentation associated with the drilling activity.
Previous to last week’s notice of violation, DEP had issued three notices of violation to Schreiner pertaining to drilling on Hedgehog Lane. On November 13, DEP cited Schreiner for over-pressured wells. On February 19, DEP issued a notice of violation for pit violations and failure to post a well permit. On March 20, DEP cited Schreiner for new over-pressured wells and failure to submit well records.
All of the violations were corrected except for the submission of well records.
The department assessed 17 water supplies during the investigation. One water well still has methane present and the resident currently is staying at a motel provided by Schreiner as a precaution. DEP continues to monitor the water well that was affected by this gas migration on a daily basis and has observed a decrease in the amount of natural gas evident in the water well.
The department suspects the stray gas occurrence is a result of 26 recently drilled wells, four of which had excessive pressure at the surface casing seat and others that had no cement returns. In an effort to eliminate the source of methane, Schreiner has installed packers on all hydraulically fractured wells and has vented all of the wells that have been drilled but have not been fractured to stimulate production.
Until the gas migration issue is resolved, Schreiner will not be drilling any new wells.
To address another neighborhood concern, the company has added stone to stabilize the access roads to reduce sedimentation on Hedgehog Lane. Schreiner also is seeding and mulching disturbed areas to stabilize the drilling sites and access roads to further reduce sedimentation and accelerated erosion.
For more information, visitwww.depweb.state.pa.us., keyword: Oil and Gas.