WATERVILLE – A substance used in the natural gas drilling process is discoloring and distorting the texture of spring water running off a Cummings Township sidehill. Cheryl Sinclair, a geologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, was collecting suspicious water samples mid-day Tuesday along Route 44, one mile south of Waterville. The mysterious substance was seen flowing down the slope, under the road and into Pine Creek, said Daniel T. Spadoni, spokesman for DEP’s northcentral region office. Officials from another state agency alerted DEP…
Terming it a surfactant, Spadoni said a substance known as Airfoam HD was causing the water run-off to be unnatural in appearance…. Surfactant used to treat Pennsylvania General Energy wells affected the water run-off, which Spadoni said had nothing to do with hydrofracturing….They were using the whitening substance as a lubricant that lowers the surface tension between air and water, according to Spadoni…
“They’re attempting to determine what caused this problem and what actions they can take to stop it,” Spadoni said of energy company representatives, with whom DEP members have been communicating… The only precaution Spadoni recommended to residents is to avoid the suspicious spring water run-off in the area….
“I don’t think you would want to drink this discharge,” he said.
The substance leaking down the hill isn’t listed as dangerous on a Material Safety Data Sheet, according to Spadoni.
“We don’t know for sure what its chemical composition is,” Spadoni said.
From Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is a foaming agent used for natural gas production and is proven to cause cancer in animals. 2-BE is a primary component of AirFoam HD, a product that has been found on drilling pads in Pennsylvania — the MSDS sheets for Air Foam HD state that is dissolves in water and that chronic exposure causes cancer. Testing for 2-BE costs over $100 per test, and the cost burden is on the landholder — the DEP has failed to test for drilling or fracking chemicals in their standard tests which are only performed when landowners report problems in their water supply, not before the problems occur. Residents who will soon have natural gas production occuring in their region or upstream from their groundwater supply must hire an independent water testing company to do a “baseline test” to show the lack of contaminants prior to the drilling. Without a baseline test, it is more difficult to convict a drilling operator for water contamination – the drilling operator can claim that there is no proof that the contaminant was not in the groundwater supply prior to the drilling.
2-Butoxylethanol (2-BE) is one of the nastier things the drilling industry uses, It is soluble in water, vaporizes in air, and is taken up through the skin. It can cause a very specific adrenal tumor linked to its exposure. According to Theo Colborn at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, it is implicated in a wide variety of health effects in most systems of the body and should be handled with great care. Studies have indicated there is no known level of dilution where 2-BE doesn’t have effect on organisms. You can download the spread sheet at the link below.
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