DOCKET ID Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0505
I am a volunteer grassroots unpaid fulltime activist who drove 6 hours from my home in Topton, PA to Pittsburgh, PA, to deliver these comment to the EPA in person, where I was *urged* to submit them electronically. For the last 11 months I have been fully engaged in this issue since I saw GASLAND in October 2010 and NOT because this is being done anywhere near “my backyard”. I study this issue 24/7. I call what I do “FRACK around the clock”. I have travelled to New Jersey to testify in front of the Delaware River Basin Commission four times, to New York to fight frack seven times, and have been extensively to all corners of PA fighting for the protection of all Pennsylvanians, for the state itself, its animals, and for all the sustainable sectors of its economy which depend on clean air and water à farming, wine- and beer-making, tourism and recreation, sustainable forestry, which amount to BILLION$ of dollars, WAY more than the gas industry is contributing to this state… Let me be clear: shale gas drilling will come and go, but these other businesses which are the lifeblood of the PA (and New York, for that matter) economy will be gone forever once BIG GA$ has its way with this state and others.
I travelled up to the beautiful Endless Mountains area of this state this past weekend to attend a four hour seminar on Marcellus Shale drilling impacts to be better prepared for this testimony today. From my own study and from knowing many people who have been directly impacted, I already knew a lot about the vagaries of shale gas drilling air impacts. Note the mundane travesty of 24/7 heavy frack truck traffic constantly spewing diesel fumes daily, endless, lumbering up and down rural roads (and destroying them while they’re at it). I have seen videos posted on social networks by my friends living in Fracksylvania which are 20 minutes long, where all you see is bumper-to-bumper HEAVY frack truck traffic, but they swear that it goes on 24/7. People who have deliberately chosen a laid-back, rural location to have a home and make a life can no longer sit out on their front porches without the indignity of assault by frack truck diesel fumes, and don’t forget the noise and vibrational pollution!
During the construction and fracturing stages, there are issues with onboard engines, well completion and clean-up, unplanned events such as blow-outs, spills, leaks, and pipeline ruptures, plus the abomination of open-air frack waste-water pits, and well-flaring. The open impoundment pits are a particular disgrace. All the frack fluids, which include endocrine disruptors, carcinogens, neurotoxins, and even radioactivity released when the shale gets fractures, are now all free to evaporate into the air. The drillers even spray it up into the air in order to do just that. They even spray it out of the trucks onto roads for what they call “dust control”; I call it “criminal”. I have seen an impoundment pit up-close and personal in Sullivan County, PA. The well site was ringed ‘round with farms, 500 yards in every direction. There were farm animals, cows, breathing right nest to these sites; beyond being inappropriate, it was shocking~ I would never want to drink milk from or eat the meat of these toxin-exposed cows, nor would I want my loved ones to do so!
As far as well-flaring, I spoke to both PA Dept. of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer and my PA State Assembly Representative Gary Day about configurations of 3-4 blow-torch-like well flares which my friends in Dimock and other towns have as few as 200 feet from their homes, which go on non-stop for 3-4 weeks, which are as loud as two 747s. Both men claimed to have NO KNOWLEDGE of this outrage, and the fact that such offensive disturbance and toxicity goes on in such close proximity to people’s residences! I have seen videos of the same. Even watching a video of flaring on a social networking site was absolutely offensively loud and shocking!!! People who have visited these sites firsthand can only stay for five minutes before the fumes overcome them with headache and nausea. Firsthand accounts of exposures to these flares also include experiencing the smell of gas in their homes, sinus impacts, cough every night, pain, earache, horrible taste in and soreness of the throat. This is not acceptable in ANY WORLD! And the fact that the head of DEP and my legislator claim NOT to know about this criminal assault of PA citizens, is, well I’m just not sure if I have a word for that~ perhaps appalling is a start.
In addition to this, the frackers also vent off pure “excess” methane (isn’t that what they are killing us to obtain, and now it’s suddenly a waste product?!?!), which is a greenhouse gas 100 X more potent than CO2! But the flaring is inexcusably obnoxious. It is criminal the way this industry has turned residential areas, and also forests and game lands, into heavy, toxic, industrial zones!
Then in the production stages, citizens are assaulted by air pollution from yet MORE truck traffic, onboard and mobile engines, compressor stations, condensate tanks, glycol dehydrators, and fugitive emissions, and MORE, always more, unplanned events. You can count on industry for unplanned events!
I have seen infrared video which records fossil fuel emissions (a FLIR camera) coming off of a large tank situated RIGHT ADJACENT to a PA SCHOOL!!!!!! And you can see copious fumes wafting right into and around the school building all day with this camera, which is otherwise invisible to the naked eye. In Dallas Township citizens have been tirelessly fighting plans for a compressor station near a school. This is NOT what I call “industry best practices”!
And a word about children here, little people who are invisible when it comes to environmental regulations, because they are smaller and breathe more air-per-pound of body weight than adults~ youth health impacts are the elephant in the room!!! Regulations are written with a 5’8” 157 lb adult man in mind, as Sandra Steingraber points out in her book “Raising Elijah”. All these horrible toxic chemicals going into our air which hurt adults can hurt children even more, causing early impairment in lung function and plenty of other problems which can stunt their growth and development and permanently impair health into adulthood as well as cause early mortality! Due to environmental over-toxicity already plaguing our society (airborne toxins), asthma rates have already sky-rocketed since the late nineties; how much worse can they get until children JUST CAN’T BREATHE?!?!?
Another vital point to consider is that when air pollution sites are monitored, many times what gets considered are the average emissions, but the fact remains that the PEAK values of toxic emissions can cause IRREVERSIBLE DAMAGE to animals, adults, and children!!! PLEASE consider this when formulating more stringent protections for people in the path of this behemoth, homicidal industry. Corporations are psychopaths and BIG GA$ is a prime example. So BIG GA$ spews bad stuff into the air including volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), particulate matter, including silica from the sand in the fracking fluids (which causes silicosis, or micro-abrasions in the lungs), methane, carcinogens, BTEX chemicals, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxins.
Here is a list of acute health effects of shale gas drilling operations: Irritation to skin, nose, throat and lungs; headaches; dizziness and lightheadedness; nausea and vomiting; skin rashes; fatigue; nervous tension; personality changes; confusion; drowsiness; weakness; muscle cramps; and irregular heartbeat. Chronic health effects of gas operations include damage to liver and kidneys; damage to lungs; damage to developing fetuses; reproductive damage; nerve damage; nervous system ill-effects; brain ill-effects; leukemia; aplastic anemia; blood cell changes; decreased blood-clotting ability; and carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic effects. This is why I call the industry homicidal. Let’s also mention the naturally occurring radioactive material disturbed through drilling and fracking of the shale: radium 226, which increases risk of lymphoma, bone cancer, leukemia, and aplastic anemia long-term; radon, of which there IS NO SAFE LEVEL, which causes lung damage and lung cancer; and uranium which causes kidney disease in high levels. Heavy metals from pits, venting, flaring, and diesel exhaust produce arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, zinc, all result in skin problems, hair loss, kidney damage, cancer, high blood pressure, and risk of brain damage.
I have information with specifics such as this which could go on for another 3 pages, but I am too depressed to go through it all. There are many recommendations for citizens to fight back, protect themselves, and document industry abuses which cost a FORTUNE and amount to a FULL-TIME JOB. The frackers should be paying to monitor their own pollution for the protection of the citizenry. Why is the industry NOT required to optimize glycol dehydration systems, modify processes, maintain good housekeeping and equipment maintenance, implement best available technologies?? Open impoundment pits are unacceptably dangerous and should be BANNED!!! Best practices and green technologies should be required and implemented, as well as emissions standards being tightened, monitored, and enforced. Citizens should not have to spend all their own money and take all their own time to defend against a criminal industry which runs willfully negligent toxic operations in callous and criminal disregard for the communities which they are occupying, to the detriment of animal, adult and youth health. This is criminal and needs to be reined in.
I hereby encourage and urge anyone who has not yet done so, to submit a comment, however brief, to the EPA online by midnight tonight, 24 October. Fell free to cut, copy, paste, adapt, chunk, abbreviate, or otherwise appropriate my work to help you create a comment of any length~ EVERY COMMENT HELPS AND COUNTS—>> so take 5 minutes and submit one, PLEASE!!! make sure to include the docket number i have at the top of my comment.
here is the link: http://www.regulations.gov follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
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