May 312012
 

What’s worse than mountaintop removal water polluting your Memorial Day Holiday? Possibly “brine water” from fracking operations. To see why, view this YouTube  video and this one, along with the photos posted here.

During Memorial Day weekend, Doddridge County residents tested road puddles made where a gas company truck had just sprayed, reportedly to control dust. Residents living along the roadway shared this report:

The water looked black coming out of the truck, smells horrible, and at three sites along the road:

         • Conductivity: 10,500 – 11,500 range (microSiemens/centimer of water)
         • TDS (Total Dissolved Solids): 8,000 – 9,000 ppm range (microSiemens/centimer of water)
         • Salinity: 6,000 to 7,000 ppm range (microSiemens/centimer of water)

This is unacceptable – children, livestock, and pets live along this road! It can wash into Broad Run. When it dries and starts blowing around — we will be breathing it! Pets may drink it… We do not want our health compromised any longer — we have been dealing with uncontrolled dust for over 2 years, but adding more harmful components for us to breathe is even worse! During our family picnic this holiday weekend my family, including children will be breathing this…

Some citizens fear the WV Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will not consistently follow up on future incidents of gas industry pollution. From past experience, DEP officials don’t come out until days after people call to report an incident. When citizens turn in film footage and/or provide the DEP with time stamped photos — such as photos that document water withdrawals from streams during prohibited withdrawal periods — DEP does not follow up in a timely fashion, if at all. In the case of the incident documented above, the DEP was relatively swift to respond, requiring the gas company to take some clean-up measures, but the agency has yet to provide residents with all the information they have requested concerning the nature of the pollutants that were sprayed onto the roadway.

We have some serious accountability and enforcement issues here in West Virginia! DEP has only 16 state inspectors and 59,000 oil and gas wells to monitor in addition to all the Marcellus drilling activity. Sometimes, citizens wonder “Why don’t they want to watch these guys?”

It is important for residents of all areas where gas drilling work is underway to watch the activities of trucks and the industry closely, and to report all problems noted. Keep a log of the activities you are reporting, with notes on date, time and with whom you spoke. Here are some helpful contact numbers for DEP:

Emergency Spill Line:  800-642-3074
Tom Aluise: 304-926-0499 extension 1338
Dave Belcher: 304-389-7590

Because residents reported this incident immediately, DEP responded in a relatively timely way.  Local news services rarely cover incidents like these in an in-depth manner, if at all, so please circulate this blog widely. Read the Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram’s news story on this incident here.

(Three Doddridge county residents provided information for this posting.)