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Friday, April 8, 2011

Bradford County Has Contaminated Water Well As A Result of Marcellus Shale Drilling

Hey Moon Township Supervisors--read this!!! Bradford County residents have polluted wells, which is a permanent disaster, as a result of methane from Marcellus Shale drilling. The problems begin to snowball. Are you writing ordinances to "accommodate" the drillers, or to protect the residents and community?

Residents: dozens of wells in Bradford County have been contaminated 

from TheDailyReview.com

TOWANDA - At the Bradford County commissioners' meeting on Thursday, several local residents said dozens of Bradford County households have had their well water contaminated by gas drilling.

There were among the residents who filled the conference room at the courthouse on Thursday to tell the commissioners about problems related to gas drilling, including traffic congestion, high rents, and contamination issues, and ask the commissioners to help address them.

Towanda resident Diane Siegmund, who has been a local activist on environmental issues, and Sheshequin Township resident Carol French told the commissioners that between 70 to 100 households in Bradford County have had their water wells contaminated by gas drilling.

Joe Shervinski of Terry Township told the commissioners that the number of Bradford County residents with water contamination problems from gas drilling is five times more than was the case in Dimock in Susquehanna County, which became a national news story. Siegmund said that 13 household in Dimock had contamination problems.

"Newly industrialized Bradford County is bearing an enormous burden from unsafe air, due to methane, and water (contamination)," Siegmund told the commissioners. "I've spoken to people who have barium in their systems, people who want to get out (of their homes) but can't sell their house," Siegmund said.

French quoted McLinko as telling Gov. Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale advisory committee that while the county has had instances of water wells being contaminated by migrating methane in Bradford County, it is not as widespread as some people portray it to be.

Siegmund said she believed the number of contaminated wells is at least 70, based on her conversations with people who had contamination problems. She said the number also reflected the number of contamination sites that had been placed on a map, which was given to a Time magazine reporter who had visited the county a few weeks ago.

Siegmund suggested that a government-sponsored website be created where Bradford County residents would be able to report their contamination problems.

After the meeting, she said the intent of the website would be to document the extent of contamination problems in the county.

At the meeting, McLinko agreed that such a site should be established.

"We have to find out where the affected wells are, and we'll go and help these people," McLinko said.
French also urged the county to begin reducing the assessments on people's homes who have been affected by gas well contamination, as she said they are financially strapped.

She said there are residents along Paradise Road in Terry Township, where there have been contamination problems, who have seen value of their homes drop dramatically, as reflected by recent appraisals.

"Their properties are worth one-tenth of what it was before gas drilling started," French said. She also said residents along Paradise Road have had to face skyrocketing electricity bills from having to heat the water in their water buffaloes to keep them from freezing and from running water filtration systems at their homes. She said that one household saw its monthly electric bill increase from $130 to $450, while another household's bill increased from below $150 to $520.

"This (increase in electric bills is occurring) through Bradford County," French said.
McLinko said, "We'll start the discussion" on creating guidelines for reducing assessments due to contamination issues, but predicted that the formulating those guidelines "won't be quick."

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or e-mail: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.

Shale gas drilling approved beneath ACORD park
Thursday, April 07, 2011  By Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Despite the overwhelming opposition of more than two dozen residents, the Avonworth Municipal Authority tonight gave the go-ahead for Marcellus Shale gas drilling beneath park property along Camp Horne Road.

The authority members, in a 3-2 vote, gave Energy US, which is based Downtown, a five-year lease for drilling rights in the 119-acre ACORD Community Park in Kilbuck and Ohio Township.

The lease still must be approved by four of the five communities that make up the Avonworth Municipal Authority. The Ohio Township council approved the lease at its Monday meeting. The remaining borough meetings will be Tuesday for Ben Avon Heights, Wednesday for Emsworth, April 19 for Ben Avon and April 26 for Kilbuck.

One resident who said he had been involved in gas drilling for years urged the board to take the offer of $2,500 an acre and potential bonuses for production. But all the other speakers were opposed. While many of the residents voiced concern over the effect of drilling on water quality and property values, others who spoke at the public hearing expressed shock at the manner in which the lease was handled.

Authority board Chairman Ed Gould told board members in an email dated April 1 that Energy US presented him with the lease March 30 and gave him a March 31 deadline to sign it, which he did with the understanding that the lease would be void if it was rejected by the board or by two of the five communities involved.

"I'm deeply concerned about this process," said Alexander Nalevanko, a member of the Emsworth Council, who called for the lease to be rejected. "Mr. Gould, I believe you have overstepped your authority. I remind the board members that you serve at the pleasure of the communities that put you here. And you can be removed. This is a community park and nothing more. "This is a terrible mistake."

"This land isn't going anywhere," said Michael Bett, a member of the Ben Avon Council. "I don't know why we have to rush into the first deal that is presented to us. It may be a great deal, I don't know. But I'd like to know more."

"This takes this property and this community down a road we've never gone before," said Jane Robinet of Kilbuck. "I was appalled that this was going on and none of us knew about it. I can't believe that something like this can happen on this big of an issue with this big of an impact."

Authority solicitor Charles Means said the lease doesn't guarantee gas drilling or production, but if there is production, the lease automatically extends.

"I feel this is too big of a risk for our community," said Lisa Cole of Ben Avon. "We want to live here for a long time. We don't want to be forced out because we can't drink the water."

"It's like putting Neville Island across the street from us," said Ted Popovich of Ben Avon. "I'm aghast at this process because, in my mind, it hasn't been proven safe yet."

Once the public comments ended, the authority members approved the lease without discussion.
Voting for the lease were Mr. Gould, who represents Ben Avon Heights, John Hartle of Ohio Township, and Paul Getz of Emsworth. Laurie Berie of Ben Avon and Don Osterwise of Kilbuck were opposed.

After the vote, Ms. Berie told those at the meeting, "Like all of you, I was clueless [about the lease]." She urged residents who were opposed to take their concerns to their local council meetings.

Dan Majors: dmajors@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1456

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