Even if Prepared – If No One Sounds The Alarm Someone Gets Hurt

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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.

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