WV/PA MONONGAHELA AREA WATERSHEDS COMPACT
MINUTES - SEVENTH MEETING, MARCH 23, 2011
1 –Barry Pally, Chair, opened the meeting and greeted everyone. He
noted that 23 House of Delegates members signed a letter calling for a
moratorium of new Marcellus Gas drilling permits. Pallay said there
were serious issues with outstanding permits; including explosions at
wells, public health issues, damage to roads, flood plains issues, and
roads built in streams, lack of cured cement in drill holes to separate
drilling from drinking water aquifers.
Pallay mentioned that UMRA has facilitated meetings with drilling
companies. He also mentioned that DEP will have new 5 steps for
drilling inspections in Harrison County
2 - Martin Niverth, of Green County, PA., reported it was too soon to
report on the effect of the new 2011 PA. regulations regarding drilling
on new sites and compressor sites. Water quality, treatment of and
removal of waste continues to be of concern, he said. There was a lack
of governmental oversight of activities. There needs to be a
“catch-up.” He added that concerns continue regarding land owners
rights – surface (erosion and sediment pollution) – good management
practices not followed. Subcontractors don’t know and don’t follow
regulations. He also has a big concerned about public health. There was
a lot of misting – water and what else – at drilling, storage and
3 – Stacey Haney, of Washington County, PA., Registered Nurse and Mom
of two teen age children shared her family’s experiences living nearby
to a Marcellus Gas drilling site and a seven acre impoundment pool. The
family had leased their land to Range, after being promised there would
be no problems. But problems soon became apparent. Stacey’s dog and the
neighbor’s dog both died. Their goat, with two young also died. An
autopsy reveled arsenic in the neighbor’s dog. The assumption was the
animals were sickened by arsenic contaminated waste water from Range’s
drilling activities. Stacey’s horse became sick. Stacey and her
children also became sick. Her son was twice hospitalized with stomach
(liver and kidney) pain, nausea, fatigue and mouth ulcers, forcing him
to remain out of school for a year and a half. Stacey and her daughter
experienced similar symptoms. Both were tested for arsenic poisoning.
Stacey suffered high levels and her daughter lower levels of arsenic
poisoning. The water smelled bad Stacey said, and later, after the
family started using bottled water, their symptoms receded. After
being contacted by Stacey the PADEP found Ethel glycol and arsenic in
water samples. She said DEP was not helpful.
Barry Pallay said he has told Gas companies that public health and
safety is a game changer. He asked everyone to share their reality,
just as Stacey has done. He added, we must roll up or sleeves and do
4 - Bill Hughes, of Whetzel County, WV, showed videos of gas vapors
emanating from Chesapeake’s Victory Field operations. Hugh’s said the
DEP does not regulate air quality and it’s hard to prove the pollution.
We can see it and smell it, but we can’t get close enough to measure
it, it dissipates into the air, he said.
5 – WV House of Delegates members, Fleischauer, Mannypenny, and Manchin
briefly reported on the 2011 WV Legislative session. No law regulating
Marcellus Shale Gas drilling, etc. was passed, although strong
amendments were added to a Bill under consideration in the House
Judiciary Committee by Delegates Mannypenny and Fleischauer. A letter
calling for a moratorium of the issuance of new drilling permits was
signed by 23 Delegates and sent to Acting Governor Tomblin. Del.
Manchin thanked everyone for their information and involvement. Del.
Manchin did not sign the moratorium letter.
Barry Pally said the Watershed Compact endorsed the call for a
moratorium of new drilling permits. He thanked the WV Delegates who
signed the letter. A motion was made to that effect and was passed by
6 & 7 - Jessica Greenhouse, USA EPA, gave a report of CONSOL’s
settlement regarding the Dunkard Creek Discharges. Questions were
raised as to the adequacy of the consent agreement. Representatives of
the WVDEP & WVDNR essentially said the consent agreement was final.
8 – Sarah Veselka, Friends of Deckers Creek, gave an update of the
“Watershed Bill of Rights” Project Proposal. She said the Project seeks
to educate the public using the media, web sites, social networks and
symposiums regarding issues and to empower citizens to do water
testing. The Project is applying for EPA grants.
Martin Niverth said he supported the Project Proposal’s efforts.
9 - Jim Butler, Greene County, presented an update on the Isaac Walton
League Citizens Watershed Monitoring Program. Jim said they have had
one water monitoring group working in the field for the last three
weeks testing TDS pollution at two sites; one on White Day Creek.
Obtained results are shared with the appropriate agencies. Jim is
building a data base system to keep track of results from TDS and PH
monitoring. He said it costs $300 to train a volunteer. A Hydrologist
trains the volunteers
10 – The Monongalia River Watershed Summit will take place on May 18,
2011 at the Waterfront Hotel, Morgantown, WV. For more
information see www.MonRiverSummit.org.