Recently I wrote an article about water problems in the Belle Vernon area. After doing more research, the results are indicting that the problem may be worse than first thought. My latest information is quite frightening.

According to a source who wishes to remain anonymous, Belle Vernon has a landfill that can take up to 80% drilling wastes, but there is really no regulation on what is coming into the landfill. Every landfill has run-off water and leachate that permeates through the dump. This watery liquid must then be treated properly and appropriate disposal must take place to make sure that the public is protected. This is not the case in this landfill because there is no dirt or clay covering it like with other landfills. The recent heavy rainfall is creating too much run-off water to keep up with. So it is going untreated.

The leach from this dump is being run into the sewage treatment plant in Belle Vernon and then discharged into the river. This discharge is upriver about a half mile from the Charleroi intakes for drinking water. The sewage plant is designed to treat wastes produced by humans. It is not designed to remove chemicals such as Radium 226, Radium 228, Strontium, Bromides, Salts, Manganese, etc.

These and many more chemicals pass through the plant and are dumped in the river virtually untouched. Then they pass into our drinking water to be consumed by us.

The truth of the matter is we really don’t know what is in the water we are drinking. The drinking water standards do not account for these chemicals. There was no need to address these chemicals since they were not part of our environment to any great extent.

It is only when the water from the drilling operations began that we started to see these chemical levels elevate. There are some chemicals used by the drilling industry that cannot be tested for.

The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project is currently studying how all these chemicals affect our health, according to Raina Rippel, director of the organization. If you have a health problem and you expect it is from environmental issues, you should contact them as soon as possible at 724-260-5504.

Going back to the leachate, according to that same anonymous source, it is estimated that anywhere between 100,000 to 300,000 gallons of this material passes through the plant each day.

The idea was that the river could dilute this material. It was thought that in using the adage, “The solution to pollution is dilution,” the problem would be handled.

The real concept should be, “Prevention is the cure for preservation.”

If we do not allow these chemicals to enter our raw water supplies, we don’t have to remove them. In other words, don’t put them in the water in the first place. I am afraid that a lot of people will suffer due to the DEP’s failure to address the flowback water from drilling.

Landfill leach is another source of the problem and I worry that the gas drilling boom will cause our residents much hardship over the years. I also feel that the amount of cancer found in our area is directly related to environmental issues. More and more research is showing this to be true.

I will keep you updated on these water woes as I find more information. And as always, trust in a higher power to guide us through these times. We will need the Wisdom of Solomon.

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