Concerns about the risk of water contamination and public health problems from Marcellus Shale drilling dominated a sometimes loud U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hearing in Southpointe attended by 1,200 people Thursday night.
Although EPA officials told those in attendance the meeting was not about drilling policy, most of the more than 100 speakers let it be known that they oppose Marcellus Shale drilling in the state, and many shared personal stories of contaminated wells, dead farm animals and damaged health. They attributed the problems to water contamination caused by the deep gas drilling operations that are increasing quickly through much of the state.
Several urged that a moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling be enacted until the EPA finishes its study scheduled for the end of 2012.
Erica Staff, of PennEnvironment, a statewide environmental group, was joined by many speakers in requesting that the EPA broaden its study of the hydraulic fracturing process, known in the industry as "fracking."
"I urge EPA to expand the scope of the study to include the entire life cycle of gas extraction," Ms. Staff said.
Myron Arnowitt, state director for Clean Water Action, said the EPA needs to look at industry practices that have caused the state Department of Environmental Protection to issue 565 violations at 207 of the 1,458 wells drilled into the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania since 2005.
"Eighty of the violations are for illegal disposal of wastewater, and 115 of them were for frack pit violations, and those are serious and need to be investigated by the EPA," Mr. Arnowitt said.
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