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Big blowout at PA gas well, threatening Susquehanna River with fracking chemicals

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 4/24/11

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For Immediate Release

Contact:  Ramsay Adams
Phone:  845-482-5400
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ramsay(at)catskillmountainkeeper(dot)org

Youngsville, NY (April 21, 2011) -
On Tuesday, at 11:45 pm, a major blowout occurred during a fracking procedure at a Chesapeake Energy-owned natural gas well in Bradford County, PA, spilling thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water into a nearby stream that flows into the Susquehanna River.

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Seven families have already been evacuated from the area, and officials have advised farmers against allowing livestock to drink from the surface water.

Despite concerted efforts of crewmembers, tainted water continued to flow from the site as recently as Thursday morning.

The blowout has left many unanswered questions, and public safety officials have said it will be days or even weeks before they are able to gather a better understanding of how this leak will affect surrounding areas.

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News reports indicate serious environmental damage headed toward the Susquehanna River Basin, and Catskill Mountainkeeper has filed a FOIA request with EPA Region 3 for the release of further information.

The spill, which was caused by an equipment malfunction, occurred on the eve of the one-year anniversary of BP's Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, and drills home the point that current drilling practices and procedures are simply not safe.

Existing regulatory processes for natural gas drilling have proven time and again to be woefully inadequate.

Current procedure ensures not only that natural gas companies undergo almost no safety and procedural review, but also that these same companies are shielded from having to disclose information regarding the specifics of chemicals used during fracking operations - even though many of these chemicals have proven carcinogenic and radioactive.

With all of the budget cuts the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been facing over the last couple of years, it's hard to imagine how they might now have the resources to deal with the aftermath of this spill.

"The disregard the industry has demonstrated with regards to the oversight of their fracking operations is criminal," says Catskill Mountainkeeper Executive Director, Ramsay Adams. "We cannot stand by while big natural gas corporations - like Chesapeake - persist in the utilization and promotion of the same sorry, unsafe drilling practices, which once again here have proven to be unsafe.  The continued implementation of such methods endangers the health and sustainability of our lands, water, and community."

Click here to view Catskill Mountainkeeper's FOIA request.

For further news and information, please check out the links below.
The New York Times
Huffington Post
NPR's Democracy Now
The Times Leader
Forbes
About Catskill Mountainkeeper

Catskill Mountainkeeper is an independent, not for profit, 501c3 community based environmental advocacy organization, dedicated to creating a flourishing sustainable economy in the Catskills and preserving and protecting the area's long term health. We address issues of water integrity for the Delaware and Susquehanna River Systems, the defense of the vast woodlands that encompass the Catskill Forest Preserve and the New York City Watershed as well as farmland protection. We promote "smart" development that balances the economic needs and concerns of the Catskill regions' citizens and the protection of our abundant but exceedingly vulnerable natural resources.

 

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