WENY TV Coverage for “Faces of Frackland”

WENY TV called me yesterday around 6pm and asked if they could interview me about the “Face of Frackland” Blog. They showed up about an hour later (which didn’t give me much time to collect my thoughts) but I was happy that they gave us a spot on the 11 o’clock news and That Cindy Kalbach from Gaines got a chance to meet with them as well. It is nice to see that the new blog is getting attention and I have to give about 98% of that credit to Hannah because she has been doing all the posting since I am so busy! Thanks for all the hard work Hannah and thanks for traveling with me to visit these folks as well.

Here is a link to the TV spot. I had to take the clip off of their Facebook page because their home site is not working???


Boldness must arise locally to save roads

This issue is just one of many that will arise. Classic freeze/thaw cycles in PA already compromise our secondary and tertiary roads without heavy truck traffic. Many of these roads have 10 ton weight limit bridges as well as weight limitations for the roads themselves, and much of the truck traffic greatly exceeds those limits. Not only does the question of “who will pay to fix these roads” come up again and again but the quality to which they are fixed may become an issue. Elk Run Road in Gaines, PA is being attended to daily by the company whose trucks destroyed the road. The gas company’s trucks, with a high clearance and/or 4-wheel drive, might be able to manage this fix of gravel and muck but the people who live on this road are struggling to get their every day vehicles in and out.

Published: March 14, 2010

It’s nearly spring and the secondary roads here are in poor shape. Some of the main roads, as well. It’s an annual occurrence. But, this year there is a dramatic difference More roads are in far worse shape than perhaps ever before, in large part because of the battering from heavy trucks, many of which are in the area tending to the burgeoning natural gas industry….

Inconvenience is an issue for motorists, of course. But far more important is safety for drivers. Safety for cars, safety for small trucks, safety for school buses carting children, and safety for big trucks, farm equipment and other vehicles.

Residents were warned about such looming hardships two years ago by county commissioners who saw early on some of the pros and cons of the natural gas boom resulting from exploitation of the Marcellus Shale play under Bradford County.

But, no one foresaw such a rapid expansion of prospecting and drilling – and infrastructure deterioration. Oversight, direction, regulation, control all lagged while the county was being transformed for better or for worse. Virtually all the mineral rights in Bradford County have been leased to gas companies, according to the Shirley Rockefeller, county register and recorder. Permits for 430 wells were issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection in 2009 for Bradford County alone, and 113 new wells were drilled. The rapid pace continues this year with 29 more drilling permits issued in January, second in the state only to Tioga County.

Plans for pipelines to transport the gas to markets are in the works. PennDOT, which only last week warned of a regional problem, says more than 60 roads in the county have been posted with weight restrictions. It is hard-pressed to keep up.

Behemoths lumber down the highways, some oversized, some overweight and, in too many cases, going too fast. They include 5,500 gallon and larger water tankers, flat beds to haul equipment, and dump trucks to haul material, all of which clog the roads, and grind the pavement. Crashes are more and more common. State police are levying unheard of fines for illegal loads running in the tens of thousands of dollars.

The roads, especially the secondary and tertiary roads are being pounded and pulverized into pot holes, gullies and broken shoulders. Driving is a hazard. Residents are growing impatient, even angry. Township supervisors and other municipal officials are at wits end.

It’s a crisis….

To read the full article, click here:


Northcentral Regional Office of DEP Report for Sept 28th-Oct 2nd



Issues Requiring the Governor’s (or Governor’s staff) ACTION

Nothing new to report

Issues Requiring the Governor’s (or Governor’s staff) ATTENTION

Nothing new to report

Management and Productivity

Nothing new to report

Recovery Activities

Nothing new to report

What’s Hot/Major Actions

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. Spill, Dimock Township, Susquehanna County: On Sept. 24, the Oil and Gas program issued an order to Cabot requiring the company to cease the hydro fracking of any wells in Susquehanna County until the company completes a number of important engineering and safety tasks.  The order requires Cabot to develop within 14 days an updated and accurate Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan and Control and Disposal Plan for all permitted well pad sites in Susquehanna County. The company must conduct an engineering study of all equipment and work practices associated with hydraulic fracturing at all well sites in the county within 21 days. Cabot also must place the approved Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency Plan and Control and Disposal Plan in a conspicuous location at each permitted well site and provide a copy to each contractor and subcontractor working at any well site. Contractors and subcontractors cannot begin work at any well site until they receive the two plans.  (Jennifer Means 570-321-6557)

TerrAqua Resource Management LLC Public Hearing, City of Williamsport, Lycoming County: On Sept. 30, a public hearing was held by DEP’s Water Management program to receive testimony regarding TerrAqua’s draft NPDES industrial wastewater permit. The company wants to construct a plant to treat gas well drilling wastewater.  This public hearing follows a public meeting that was held July 8, which generated significant public interest and comment.  About 60 people attended the public hearing with 12 people providing oral testimony.  Clean Water Action was the only statewide environmental group that provided testimony.  DEP will continue to accept written testimony and comments regarding this permit application through Oct. 7.  (Robert Hawley 570-327-0530)

Northeastern ITS LLC, Mercer, Venango, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Centre, Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Columbia, Schuylkill, Lehigh and Northampton Counties: The Pa. Bulletin notice for the Chapter 102 permit application was published Sept. 26 for this fiber optic line project.  AECOM, consultant for Northeastern ITS, continues to update the mapping for the Chapter 102 permit application.  One such update now includes a portion of Columbia County.  This change will necessitate a revised notice to the Pa. Bulletin.  NWRO has not received any revised Chapter 105 applications.  (John Twardowski 570-321-6523)

Emergency Response, Pine Creek Township, Clinton County: On Sept. 22, Emergency Response Manager Gerald McKernan responded to a residual waste spill along Pa. Route 220 in Pine Creek Township.  A Dirt Inc. truck was transporting gas drilling fines from a Chesapeake gas well in Bradford County to the Clinton County Solid Waste Authority in Wayne Township.  For an unknown reason, the truck lost the entire load from the Avis exit of Route 220 to the landfill in Wayne Township.  The local fire department was washing the residual waste from the road surface until requested to stop.  PennDOT then used a street sweeper to remove the sludge from the road surface.  Eagle Towing and Recovery was hired to remove the residue from the shoulder of the road.  Appalachian Utilities has a drinking water well in the immediate vicinity supplying Avis Borough and Pine Creek Township.  The incident was referred to the Waste Management program for follow up.  (Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Potential Problems/Potential Major Actions

Watrous Water Association, Gaines Township, Tioga County: Water Supply Management program staff continue to deal with the Watrous Water Association regarding its community water system.  The association board discontinued use of the Benaur Spring since there was no disinfection on that source.  The property owners of the land where the spring is located stated that they will not allow the association to use their land to provide power or construct buildings in order for disinfection to occur.  The association has reverted to using Hanky Panky Spring as its sole source, which is also under the influence of surface water and needs to either be abandoned or filtered.  Exceedingly high water use due to seasonal use of homes and cabins on the system has caused problems meeting the demand.  A number of association board members have threatened to resign and have told a number of system customers that they should be drilling individual wells.  Watrous Water Association has neither the financial nor managerial capabilities to run a community water system.  DEP staff will continue to work with the association though it appears a compliance document will ultimately be needed to keep the association moving in a positive manner to comply with our regulations.  (John Hamilton 570-327-3650)

Good News/Major Accomplishments

Sewage Connection Limitations Lifted, Moshannon Valley Joint Sewer Authority, Centre County: In 2002, Moshannon Valley Joint Sewer Authority and its tributary communities of Morris, Rush, and Decatur Townships, and Chester Hill and Philipsburg Boroughs were placed on sewage planning restrictions.  The sewage treatment plant was hydraulically and organically overloaded, experienced bypasses, and had multiple effluent violations.  Most of the problems were associated with excessive inflow/infiltration entering the collection systems in the respective municipalities.  Through consent orders and agreements with each of the tributary municipalities, the collections systems were rehabilitated to eliminated the excessive inflow/infiltration.  The flows have been greatly reduced, no effluent violations have been reported for at least two years, and the treatment plant is no longer in an existing or projected overload.  On Sept. 28, the Water Management program lifted the planning restrictions.  (Robert Boos 570-327-3399)

M.W. Farmer Co., South Williamsport Borough, Lycoming County: On Sept. 23, the Waste Management program received the final payment of a $48,000 civil penalty issued to the M.W. Farmer Co. for residual waste violations.  The civil penalty was part of a November 2005 consent order and agreement with Farmer to correct residual waste violations that included accepting and storing residual waste associated with the removal and salvaging of underground storage tanks, and the acceptance and storage of waste oil, which requires a permit from DEP, at the company’s property in South Williamsport. (James E. Miller 570-327-3431)

Casella Waste Management of New York Inc., Ulysses Township, Potter County:  On Sept. 24, the Waste Management program finalized a $3,000 civil penalty with Casella Waste Management of New York Inc. for waste transporter violations noted during an Aug. 26 waste vehicle inspection at the Potter County Transfer Station.  Casella operated two waste transportation vehicles that lacked the required sign to identify the type of solid waste being transported.  (James E. Miller 570-327-3431)

On-Lot Sewage Crisis, Lycoming Sanitary Committee, Lycoming County: The committee relies on an 85 percent state grant to cover operating expenses. Because of the budget impasse and the early depletion of allocated funds under the previous budget, the committee is currently operating on a $150,000 line of credit from a local bank that is projected to run out on Sept. 25. This is in addition to the 2008 state reimbursement of $260,000 that it is still waiting to receive for the previous year’s expenses. The board had voted to permanently close down the agency if it doesn’t get the state reimbursement by Sept. 25.  UPDATE: During its meeting on Sept. 24, the board decided to keep the doors open until November when it will reevaluate staying in operation or closing and filing for bankruptcy.  The hope is that by November the state budget will be resolved, the grant program funded, and the 2008 reimbursement received. (Robert Boos 570-327-3399)

Outreach/Upcoming Events

Conservation District Roundtable, Northcentral Region: On Sept. 25, the Watershed Management program hosted the fall conservation district roundtable meeting with our conservation district partners.  Conservation district staff from 12 districts attended and heard reports and took part in discussion on the Lycoming County nutrient trading project; an update on the Oil and Gas program in the NCRO; increased activity in regional agricultural compliance; and an update from central office staff on the newly revised Chapter 102 erosion control regulations.  The group then divided into program specific breakout sessions to further discuss program issues with the respective program staff.  Two of these roundtable meetings are held each year to further increase the communication and close working relationship with our conservation districts and to exchange ideas and concerns on specific issues.  (David Garg 570-321-6581)

Green Career Day, Mt. Pisgah State Park, Bradford County: On Sept. 30, two Water Management biologists were invited for the fourth year in a row to set up a station at the Career Day for 8th graders from Tioga, Bradford and Sullivan Counties.  DEP was one of 21 agencies and green industries represented at the Career Day.  Students learned about the importance and variety of natural resource job opportunities that exist in the Northern Tier.  As in years past, the DEP station was very popular with around 32 students learning about fish capture techniques, fish identification and health and environmental conditions that affect fish populations.  Many questions were asked and interest was shown in a career with DEP. (Tom Randis 570-327-3781)

OSHA Refresher and General Safety Training, Northcentral Regional Office: On Sept. 23, Gerald McKernan, Jack Kernan, John Erich and Denny Wright conducted OSHA Refresher and General Safety Training to eleven NCRO employees.  The training provided employees with an overview of hazardous material safety procedures, Office of Administration, DEP’s and Field Operation’s safety policies, and basic standard operating procedures.  (Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Table Top Exercise, City of Lock Haven, Clinton County: On Sept. 29, Emergency Response Manager Gerald McKernan participated in a table top exercise at the Clinton County Emergency Operations Center in Lock Haven.  The exercise was a fracking pipe failure resulting in a heating oil release and a brush fire at a well site in Grugan Township.  Other state agencies participating in the exercise were the State Police, PennDOT, PEMA, and DCNR, along with local emergency fire and medical services.  The exercise was managed by O’Brien’s Response Management and funded by Anadarko.  It was an excellent networking and learning experience for all participants.  Communication problems were the major issue due to the remoteness of the location, lack of cell service, satellite phone connectivity, and lack of radio communications by Anadarko with the county.  (Gerald McKernan 570-327-3722)

Act 2

Palmer Industrial Coatings Inc. Act 2 Site, Woodward Township, Lycoming County: Palmer Industrial Coatings was granted Act 2 relief of liability on Sept. 30 for soil contaminated with gasoline, diesel and heating oil.  The soil was remediated to meet Statewide Health Standards.  One 2000-gallon underground storage tank that previously held heating oil and two 1000-gallon tanks that previously held gasoline/diesel fuel were located onsite.  The tanks were removed starting in June 2008 by M.W. Farmer.  Soil was found to be contaminated with gasoline, diesel and heating oil constituents and was excavated.  Three confirmatory soil samples were taken below each tank for a total of nine samples.  All soil samples came back below DEP’s Statewide Health Standards.  About 74 tons of contaminated soil was disposed at Lycoming County Landfill.  (Randy L. Farmerie 570-327-3716)

Rainey Property Act 2 Site, Bell Township, Clearfield County: On Sept. 30, the Environmental Cleanup program approved an Act 2 Final Report that demonstrated attainment of the Site-Specific Standard for soil and groundwater.  In 1998, gasoline contaminated groundwater was discovered at a property across the road from the site.  DEP’s investigation revealed that the site was a former gasoline station and in the mid-1980s underground storage tanks were removed without closure sampling being conducted.  The property owner, Richard Rainey, refused to complete site characterization.  As a result, DEP issued an administrative order on Jan. 18, 2002.  Soil and groundwater characterization were completed for the site.  About 114 tons of contaminated soil was removed from the former tank pit area.  Sampling of soil and groundwater demonstrated attainment of the Site-Specific Standard.  (Randy Farmerie 570-327-3716)

FB Leopold Act 2 Site, Watsontown Borough and Delaware Township, Northumberland County: On Sept. 23, the Environmental Cleanup program approved the Act 2 Final Report for the attainment of a Non-Residential Statewide Health standard for soil and groundwater at the FB Leopold Media Filter Company in Watsontown.  The site was used for brick manufacturing from 1913 through 1986, and a coal gasification plant was operated on a portion of the site from 1979 to 1984.  In 1990, the site became an anthracite screening operation.  FB Leopold operated from 1996 through 2006, when the current owner, ITT Corporation, assumed operations.  An environmental site assessment detected isolated areas of soil contamination.  Remediation consisted of excavation of these impacted soil areas, and the collection of post-remedial samples confirmed that Act 2 Non-Residential Statewide Health standards had been attained.  An executed environmental covenant was submitted to ensure that the site use remains non-residential and that groundwater not be used as a potable water source. (Larry Newcomer 570-327-3418)

NPDES Majors Backlog Status

Number of Overdue Permits-0

Number of Permits Issued This Week-0

Number of Permits Newly Expired This Week-0

(Chad Miller 570-327-3639)

Items for the DEP Planning Calendar

Nothing new to report