They called 911 but never alerted the residents – They evacuated 22 families as the oil spilled out but won’t tell us the risks – the train derailment is being cleaned up but people are still sick — the seven inch well stack exploded into the air like a missile – Where are the Protections?
In Montrose Borough, PA a woman was concerned and curious about a loud noise coming from a fracking site not too far from her home. Vera Scroggins decided to take a ride and find out what was happening. She described this journey in her letter to the editor.
“I was in a friend’s living room on March 19th in Montrose Borough, Pa., Susquehanna County, at about 5 p.m., and heard a loud noise going on for eventually over an hour and it sounded almost like a gas flare but later found out it was an ESD release, an emergency shutdown, of pipelines as part of safety measures and routine maintenance.
I followed the sound to Sterling Rd., South Montrose, about 2 miles away or more and it was loudest there. People, like myself, were driving around trying to find out what this was. This was a new experience for me. I have found out that gases were released for over an hour and we, the community are being exposed to this by Williams Gas.”
It is amazing how this story is the same as the story from families living around chemical plants, pipelines, incinerators, dumpsites and so many more dangerous places. Government and corporate profiteers get away with releasing chemicals accidentally or on purpose and don’t have to notify people at risk.
As a result there is no way for innocent families to prepare themselves for the danger. Families often think about fire and have a fire alarm or explain to children in the event of a fire in the homes here is what you do. Schools across the country have fire drills so that students and staff are prepared in the event of a fire.
Yet in communities like Vera’s or most recently March 29th in Arkansas a pipeline rupture where tar sands sludge spilled 12,000 barrels of oil throughout the community causing the evacuation of at least 22 families. March 30th a fracking explosion shot a huge, long pipe into the air landing in the cab of a construction truck. Earlier in March in Paulsboro, NJ a train derailed and a toxic cloud covered the area people were confused about what to do but worse they were told the risk was low. Yet a 77 year old woman died after breathing those toxic chemicals from the train derailment.
Vera is right when she said in her letter, when she talked about the lack of notification and preparedness for such accidents. “No one in the community was notified except 911 about this. We need to know who to call when this happens and be told what it is to allay our fears and anxiety. And we need to know what the health impacts from gases being released from pipelines in this instance and any more that will happen in the future.”
In all of these situations we often talk about the issues in a bigger broader context but the past month has really demonstrated how local the issues are and that our focus needs to include large policies or regulatory change but also change that can address the many needs for safety notification and enforcement at the local frontline communities.
Vera and other just like her across the country want answers and help. It’s time to focus on these needs.
“We know that our continued reliance on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas, will not solve the climate crisis, even with the best controls in place,” said Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, who called the new plan “akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.” Read more.
A Cold Wednesday in March Demonstrated the reach CHEJ has and how much is really accomplished.
A Cold, Windy and Snowy Day Did Not Stop Us.
Wednesday March 6th a storm was brewing across the Midwest and Northeast. Despite the snow and travel warnings CHEJ’s leaders moved forward. Here is what happened on that cold, windy and snowy Wednesday in March.
A day in the life of CHEJ
As I juggle calls from activists across the state of Ohio working on fracking, deep well injection, air pollution, cancer clusters and more I’m freezing outside at and anti injection well rally at the state capital. Cold and tired watching e-mails cross my phone from CHEJ’s home office I realize how much CHEJ does in a day to move the country toward a safe, healthy and justice place for American families.
While I’m in Columbus, Ohio participating with my neighbors and friends to speak out about fracking waste disposal. Even with the nasty weather, over 125 people gather at the state house to ask legislators to stop accepting out-of-state fracking wastes. Ohio now has over 200 injection wells and last year accepted 581,559,594 gallons (that’s right over 581 million gallons) of fracking wastes.
My co-worker is working on greening the market place organized a shareholder action in Arizona around Disney’s use of poison plastic in toys and other children’s products. This morning a shareholder action was held in Phoenix, Arizona. Leaders handed out informational packets to Disney shareholders to ask them to stop using PVC the poison plastic in their toys. Many shareholders had no idea that toys were being made in a way that could harm young children.
Commemorating 35th Anniversary of Love Canal
In New York City
That same evening a celebration and fundraiser was held in New York City with our Executive Director Lois Gibbs. This was our first event of several, commemorations of Love Canal events 35 years ago were underway. Chevy and Jayni Chase joined us as our special guest along with 67 others who braved the weather to celebrate with us that evening. CHEJ surpassed our fundraising goal at the event and launched the Leadership Training Academy. Great time was had by all with great food, drinks, conversations with colleagues and a preview of the new documentary A Fierce Green Fire, The Battle for A Living Planet.
A coalition of environmental and community groups is asking the federal government to consider suspending Ohio’s authority to oversee deep injection of chemically-laced wastewater from oil and gas drilling.
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice and other groups planned to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to investigate and audit Ohio’s regulatory program of deep injection wells, operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The call follows February indictments of a northeast Ohio businessman and his employee charging they illegally dumped oil and gas wastes. The two pleaded not guilty Friday.
A series of earthquakes around Youngstown had prompted an effective moratorium on new injection wells in early 2012. The state resumed issuing injection permits in November after imposing new testing, reporting and tracking requirements.
This blog posted by Elisabeth Hoffman is worth sharing especially as activist try to move the state of Maryland to place a moratorium on fracking until studies are conducted that prove fracking is safe. I thought I’d post this instead because it moving.
So, we are taking stock. On the downside: The fracking moratorium legislation for Maryland fell one vote short of getting out of its Senate committee during this General Assembly session.
On the plus side: The Senate committee at least voted. And the vote was sooo close.
And, we are not going away. Or giving up.
That was the message from more than 100 concerned Marylanders at yesterday’s rally in front of the State House in Annapolis. In the pointed words of Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s director, we told legislators: You had better “get to work” to protect communities, the environment and the climate from fracking.
The rally, organized by CCAN, included parents and grandparents, college and high school students and teachers (including a group from Glenelg Country School in Howard County), a couple of babies in backpacks and strollers, nurses and other activists, and Western Maryland residents who live in areas that would be drilled or where natural gas compressor stations are planned.
One of the biggest lessons of the day, though, came from Lois Gibbs, who organized her Love Canal neighbors in the late 1970s when toxic waste buried under their homes and schools started making people sick.
To the crowd at the rally, Gibbs said: “We did not win because we were right. Although we were right. We did not win because we were sick. Although we were sick. We did not win because we had legal rights. Although we had some rights. . . . We won because of people like you.” Science alone is not enough, she said. These will be political battles.
Toxic waste buried in the soil under Love Canal wasn’t supposed to move. But it did, and so will the fracking fluid, she said. “Do not go down this road with blinders on,” Gibbs said.
In Love Canal, 56 percent of children were born with birth defects, Gibbs said. They had extra fingers and toes, for example, or mental retardation, she said.
All the assurances from the natural gas industry that the fracking fluid will never cross into the water table are “hogwash,” she said. As executive director of the Center for Health, Environment &Justice, Gibbs said she has traveled to communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and Wyoming where drilling is happening. She has seen mothers who can’t bathe their children in the tap water and neighbors who have to raise money to bring public water lines to houses. While the industry makes millions.
“Fracking will kill the environment,” she said. More studies are needed, she said, “so that you don’t end up like the families at Love Canal.”
Also urging the crowd to press on was Garrett County resident Eric Robison, the owner of Eagle Rock Construction and a co-founder of CitizenShale. He said he was heartened by the size of the crowd because three years ago he and just a few others were sitting around a table trying to figure out what to do about the fracking wave headed for their community.
Image Eric Robison of CitizenShale says the governor’s temporary executive order and funding are insufficient. He said the state needs a legislative moratorium to have time to finish the studies called for in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2011 executive order. Although O’Malley has included $1.5 million in the next budget for the studies, he said, Environment Secretary Robert Summers has said neither the time nor the money is likely to be sufficient to complete the studies by the time the governor’s executive order expires in 2014.
After the rally, Robison, who is a contractor, said part of the reason he entered this fray is because he works with concrete daily. And concrete fails. Sometimes right away, sometimes years down the road. But it always fails. In fracking, a concrete casing forms the protective barrier between water aquifers and the steel casing that carries the hazardous fracking fluid.
Matia Vanderbilt, also a co-founder of CitizenShale, spoke at the rally a little more than a week after returning from the Frack Attack National Summit in Texas. “We are a piece of the puzzle,” she said, and must demand that legislators “put Marylanders first.”
The legislature “dropped the ball” this year, she said, but the defeat is a “small setback” and we can’t give up. Once the executive order expires, “we are completely vulnerable.”
Vanderbilt, who has lived in Western Maryland for 30 years, said she and others from Garrett County are fighting to protect water, children, farms and businesses. She talked about kayaking, swimming and hiking in the region and encouraged everyone to visit.
“When you come [to Garrett County], you will see why we fight,” she said. Next up: Environment Maryland, Food & Water Watch, CCAN and other groups are co-sponsoring a panel in Annapolis of landowners, farmers and others living with fracking in Pennsylvania. The event is Monday, March 18, at the House of Delegates building, Room 318, starting at 6 p.m. Speakers include: Rep. Jesse White (D), Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 46th District, (invited); Ralph Kisberg, president of Responsible Drilling Alliance, Williamsport, Pa., Margaret Henry, pig farmer from Lawrence County, Pa., and David Headley, landowner with drilling wells on his property in Smithfield, Pa.
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing will rally in Annapolis today to press lawmakers for a moratorium on the controversial drilling practice in the state. Read more.
“This bill is to offshore wind power in the Mid-Atlantic what the early railroads were to American transportation,” said Mike Tidwell from Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The Maryland Senate today passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 (HB 226) by a vote of 30 to 15, pushing this landmark clean energy law over its final major hurdle, and ensuring it will reach Governor O’Malley’s desk.
Great victory. Now need everyone’s help at rally March 13th at the capital to push for BAN ON FRACKING. Click here for more information.
In Maryland, today’s Senate passage of the offshore wind bill follows House passage two weeks ago. The bill is the culmination of a broad, unprecedented grassroots campaign. Over the past two and a half years, hundreds of environmental, health, labor, business, faith and student groups, and thousands of ordinary Marylander voters, joined together to push lawmakers in Annapolis to take this step forward and make offshore wind power a reality in Maryland. “>Read more.
Backed By Silver, Assembly Bill Would Delay Fracking Permits 1 Year. A bill quietly introduced today in the state Assembly would prevent state environmental regulators from issuing drilling permits for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions until a full review of the health impacts can be assessed. Read more.
Ohio has an amazing way to make the radioactive waste produced by the oil/gas industry just disappear. How you ask, just mix the radium 226 and 228 with dirt until the levels are only 5 picocuries above background. There are two other options that Ohio gives industry, send the waste to a low level waste site in Oregon or to a landfill in Michigan that takes the radioactive waste below 50 picocuries. Gee, wonder which one is cheapest for the oil/gas industry.
Ohio also is considering allowing the “beneficial use” of drill cutting. They say nothing about testing of this toxic, radioactive waste. Save landfill space is their cry. One way Ohio is saving space is by using the drill cuttings as landfill cover. Did Ohio consider that this waste may become airborne? Remember this is Ohio.
Maybe we should require that the multimillionaires of the oil and gas industry live next to the landfills or injection wells that take the drilling waste. Just like during the Roman Empire when an architect built one of the still standing arches they were pretty sure that the arch was safe to walk under because, when they built one, the empire made the Designer/Architect stand under it while they removed the supports after construction.