Environmental Justice

Marcellus Shale: Emergency Response Meeting

The meeting with Senator Bob Casey in Pittsburgh revealed interesting perspectives regarding the safety of mining for Marcellus Shale. Hearing from several different people revealed the problems and benefits associated with the mining.

Arguments against the Marcellus Shale mining, besides obvious environmental factors, also have to deal with the safety and the reaction of emergency crews. If the correct standards and precautions are not taken, the mining becomes an extremely dangerous endeavor. The people who spoke ranged from Emergency Response Coordinators to those that have been witness to the dangers firsthand.

The Emergency Response coordinators explained the major problem with mining is whether or not the definitions and actions taken to prevent accidents and issues are enough. It is only when we are able to prevent and respond correctly that the mining can be considered as an option. An issue discussed was whether the 911 operators and crew understood exactly what the mining problems could be and how to respond.

A local, June Chappel, resident of Hopewell Township in Washington County, described the 118 acres surrounding her property were purchased by a gas drilling company. She went on to describe the dangers of a fire burning the waste water and coming out of pipes that was poorly managed by a volunteer fire department. The company then went on to deny the claims there was a fire, only admitting it once Chappel hired a lawyer and had evidence through the use of photos. She, and the families surrounding her, were never warned of the dangers of the fire or told to evacuate.

Instances like Ms. Chappel’s illustrate exactly why it is important to communicate and create more barriers to prevent such horrific problems.

Overall, the issue was left with a debate of where to continue next with the issue of Marcellus Shale mining. Senator Casey will continue to learn about the issue before a decision is made.

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