Over the last few years I have been writing and informing the readers about what is going on with our water. In many cases, I feel it has been falling on deaf ears. Time and time again new evidence has shown that we are digressing when it comes to water quality. I too feel that Harrisburg has turned their backs on our problems in Southwestern Pennsylvania. In the following, I would like to review a few incidents that stand out in my mind.
Let us begin with Clyde Mine discharge into the North Branch of Ten Mile Creek.
The discharge from the mine has shown chemicals at levels higher than ever recorded in mine discharges. For example, Bromide levels found in the discharge are higher than ever recorded from normal mining operations. Yet, nothing is being done to correct the problem.
When I question the authorities about this situation, I am told there is no standards set for Bromides. The DEP stance is that since the EPA has not set a standard for Bromide they do not have to address the issue. The DEP and our state have the right to set state standards, yet, the state will not set a standard.
So, day after day, Bromides are entering our drinking water and we are consuming this chemical in our bodies. No one really knows the affect these chemicals will have on our bodies. To add to our water woes, Dilworth Mine is even putting more Bromides into our raw water supplies. In time, we will find out what is going to happen to our populace.
We, as a populace, think that our water is safe to drink. We expect the water companies to make sure our water is safe for consumption. They do, in many cases, follow the DEP standards, but these standards are antiquated. The standards do not address the chemicals being used in the drilling industry. In fact, there are over 50 chemicals being used by the industry that have no way to test for their presence. I don’t buy the fact that the entire backwater flow from the industry is treated properly. If this was true, the levels of bromide, sodium, salt and strontium (to name a few) would not have increased in our mine discharges. Even with repeated requests, the DEP will not do the Gamma Spec test for Radium 226 in our mine drainages.
While on this subject, our state government has just passed legislation to allow conventional drilling waste water to be dumped on our roads for dust and ice suppression. No consideration was given for testing this water before releasing it into our environment. When the testing was done on the flowback water from conventional wells, it was found the radiation levels were way over the standards.
For example, the amount of radium that can be released into the environment has to be less than 60 pCi/L; yet, the water from the conventional wells ranged from 1230 pCi/L to 2000 pCi/L. Don’t you think that a thorough investigation of this water should have been done before our representatives voted to allow these toxic materials to be dumped on our roads?
When I questioned one representative about this, he stated that the water is not from fracking, so it is safe. Well surprise, all wells are fracked. When I asked him if he questioned the contents of this water, he had no answer.
Why would you ever vote on a bill if you don’t investigate all the parameters first?
How about one more ridicules permit that is being considered? The DEP is considering letting the drilling industry place a deep injection well in Plum Township.
The history of these deep injection wells has shown a close correlation to earthquakes. The area being considered is in a place where mining has taken place. Can you imagine the destruction that would take place if an earthquake takes place in the area?
One last thought, Cumberland Mine (Alpha Resources) had to build a water treatment plant to address mine water discharge. The plant was built but is not operating. Instead, Alpha Resources applied for a permit to dump high levels of sulfate into the river. Why not operate the plan?
I could go on but seriously, how long can we go on not protecting our environment before we pay a terrible toll? We may be starting the pay back with our high cancer rates. It may only the beginning.
I keep asking for the strength of Samson, the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job, but to be honest my fuse is growing shorter.