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Ten Questions For the DEP the Public Deserves Answered

'The fact that DEP has gone to such lengths to hide the facts should make us all suspicious,' state Rep. Jesse White said.

Last month I sent out a press release asking about the testimony given under oath in depositions by two high-ranking officials at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

These officials testified the DEP is using a system of codes, called ‘Suite Codes’ to limit the information given to landowners who have their water tested if there is a suspicion of contamination near a natural gas drilling site.

Instead of addressing the damning words of his own employees, DEP Secretary Krancer released two separate responses. He went to great pains to avoid addressing the specific issues, instead resorting to personal attacks and misdirection. He ignored what’s really important, which is making sure the people of Pennsylvania get all the facts they need to know if their air and water are safe or not.

My own experiences with DEP and the situation at Cornerstone Care exposed a startling lack of transparency with information the public has a right to know. The DEP still refuses to release the 400 pages of data from tests conducted while people were getting very sick at the health clinic. The fact that DEP has gone to such lengths to hide the facts should make us all suspicious.

Despite the response from the DEP or anyone else, this isn’t personal and it certainly isn’t something that should be ignored. I have read the depositions. I speak to dozens of landowners every week, many of whom are leaseholders who have no faith whatsoever in DEP and are afraid to trust anyone anymore. This is about getting the public the answers and facts, plain and simple.

So instead of stooping down to the attack level, I wrote a response to DEP Sec. Michael Krancer last week with 10 specific questions I believe the public deserves to have answered. These aren’t trick questions; they’re fair and well-reasoned, and if the DEP under the Corbett administration is truly operating on the level, they should be easy to answer.

Here are the questions. I will certainly let everyone know when or if I get an answer.

1. Who specifically at DEP develops the Suite Codes used to determine which data is reported and what guidelines are used by DEP in determining which Suite Code is to be used in a given situation?

2. Aside from Suite Codes 942 and 946, are there any other Suite Codes that have been developed by DEP to be used for issues related to Marcellus Shale or other unconventional natural gas drilling?

3. In light of the testimony given under oath by DEP Water Quality Specialist John Carson revealing a lack of training, what are the specific training programs used to train DEP field staff in regards to water impact from Marcellus Shale drilling operations and how to properly collect water samples?

4. How many water quality tests for suspected impact or contamination from Marcellus Shale or unconventional natural gas drilling has DEP performed since 2005, and how many of those had an analysis Suite Code run on the results? Please be specific with regards to tests per year and which Suite Code was applied.

5. Is a landowner entitled to the full quality assurance/quality control and/or other raw data from water quality testing the DEP has conducted? If so, what must they do to obtain said data, and if not, what specific provision in the lawprevents them from obtaining the information?

6. If the DEP laboratory found evidence of heavy or toxic metals in a water sample, but the field agent had used a Suite Code such as 942 or 946 to prevent that data from coming across the ‘functional wall’ between DEP field staff and labs, how would a landowner be made aware of the problem?

7. Of the heavy metals tested for under EPA Standard 200.7 but not reported under Suite Codes 942 or 946 (silver, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, nickel, silicon, molybdenum, tin, titanium, vanadium and boron), does the DEP lab have accurate quality assurance/quality control data available to verify levels?

8. As Secretary of DEP and as a Pennsylvania resident, would you feel comfortable drinking or bathing in water where there is a suspicion of contamination without knowing the levels of silver, aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, nickel, silicon, molybdenum, tin, titanium, vanadium and boron? If not, how could you reasonably expect any other Pennsylvanian to feel the same way?

9. Will DEP release the 400 pages of raw testing data taken in June 2012 from the Cornerstone Care health clinic in Washington County, and if not, why?

10. Why is the policy of DEP to give residents anything less than 100 percent of the available data when looking at possible water impact or contamination, regardless of the source? What purpose does anything less than full disclosure serve?

Amanda Gillooly December 14, 2012 at 03:00 AM
You guys know me. I have to say it, and I ask it with all sincerity: Please just watch your language and keep it civil. Thanks!
Amanda Gillooly December 14, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Please keep the conversation on topic, Prouder. Thanks! As always, if you'd like to write a signed letter to the editor, my email is amanda.gillooly@patch.com.
Amanda Gillooly December 14, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Prouder - I removed your comment because it contained a personal attack. Just wanted to let you know.
Frank Pollack December 14, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Your analogy makes no sense. If you had a blood test done for specific symptoms and an unrelated problem was found , wouldn't you want to know?
cecil resident December 14, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Amanda you do a good job contolling the situation thank you again for this service on the Patch I have learned a lot even from people even ones I don't see eye to eye with it makes you look at all side and do some research and look at things from a different angle.
Donald Roessler December 14, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Think about what it would be like around here if we didn't have the DEP. We would probably have to change the name of Chartiers Creek to Frackwater Creek.
cecil resident December 14, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Was talking to someone who knows the history of the first oil boom in the McDonald area they had so much oil and couldn't get pipe lines in fast enough so they used the smaill creek to run to oil to an area where it could be pick up. The DEP sounds pretty good
Prouder American December 14, 2012 at 09:51 PM
You're equating DEP's current performance to an oil boom in McDonald a century ago with no real point? How's this for reality? THE DEP IS LOOKING THE OTHER WAY WHILE PEOPLE ARE GETTING POISONED. YOUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS WILL GET CANCER. KIDS WILL GET CANCER. ANIMALS WILL GET CANCER. I hope you're willing to stand up and be so proud of these people then, Janice.
cecil resident December 15, 2012 at 01:04 AM
When you provide the proof of all your accusation then maybe people will start paying attention to what you say. Show me studies from unbias sources not fracking hating sites and I will be happy to read them I really don't mean to upset you
cecil resident December 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Guess I should have explained myself a little better about the oil boom in McDonald.Back then they had no regulations now we do today and I have not seen any proof from a unbias source that all of this big cover up excist all I have ever seen is accusations . And the DEP is not the only department that is watching this industry.
Donald Roessler December 15, 2012 at 05:32 AM
Proud American you were right when you said a two sided argument makes you do some research. This article is interesting. It says they are coming up with other ways of fracking that involve benign chemicals such as nitrogen and helium for fracking that are safer for the environment. http://triblive.com/business/2752929-74/chemicals-gas-frack-fracking-drillers-benign-companies-nitrogen-percent-waterless#axzz2F5htXb2p
cecil resident December 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Donald Roessler when people resent something the only sites they believe are site that confirm their fears. We all know with any industry as large as the oil and gas industries that accidents will happen and they should be held accountable. but so many people are blaming the whole industry and the whole process. They gas and oil industries are always looking for new ways to do this process and things do get better and safer. I said once before if we stop doing things out of fear we would still be in the stone age. thanks for the article it was very informative
Donald Roessler December 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM
If it wasn't for people like Prouder American who raise, what I'll call legitimate concerns, they wouldn't be looking at other ways to do this. Also I think I read somewhere one time that the reason we have the DEP and the EPA is because of the concerns of the environmentalists. In other words if it wasn't because of them we wouldn't have these groups to watch over several industries not just the gas. And I agree that if something is caused by them that they be held accountable. I also agree with Jesse White that if there is a cover up by the DEP that someone be held accountable there too. But like you I'm going to wait and see if it is proven before I start pointing fingers at anyone.
Xavier Holden December 15, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Can you please cite ONE instance where someone has died from Fracking? In fact, cite ONE instance in the USA where fracking was shown to contaminate a single drinking water well. You can't...why? Because it never happened.
Prouder American December 15, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Good points, but here's the problem. If companies like Range won't be honest about how they conduct their operations, and the DEP refuses to investigate or cite them, and people like proud American will call any study or news source that doesn't agree with their viewpoint biased (as aided by industry-funded groups like Energy in Depth and the Marcellus Shale Coalition), and journalists like Amanda are attacked for every little things she writes and representatives like Jesse White are villified for asking questions, HOW IN THE WORLD WILL ANYONE EVER BE ABLE TO PROVE ANYTHING THAT WILL SATISFY YOU? Do you need to see a dead body, proud American? Is that really what it's going to take? Just tell me what you consider to be 'unbiased proof'. Was the recent New York Times article about DEP omitting test results of poisonous chemicals enough? Those are Range sites, and neither DEP or Range sued the New York Times for defamation, so can we agree that was true???
cecil resident December 15, 2012 at 11:13 PM
Did you know that Range was the first company to post what chemicals they use? If someone says that drilling has affected their wells they check for that chemical in their water that is what the case would be about . Any one who has well water knows their are all kind of things in your water and they can come from many sources and I would never trust anyone who I thought contaminated my water to do the test.That is why I said I personally would use a third party and Range even told people that at the workshop. I don't believe everything on the sites that are backed by the industries I do my own research and make my own decision. An articles in the OR on July 23, 2012 The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer authority who has no stake in the game did extensive test and said they didn't find any problems in the rivers.Also in Texas the opponents of fracking they said their was a hugh increase in the cancer rate in fracking areas The Susan G. Komen for the cure said their was no evidence of a spike these are the kind of things I find truthful because they don't have any benefit to lie, this is what I mean by unbiased proof. If a company sued over ever thing that was bias against them that is written in papers on the internet etc. there wouldn't be any room in the courts for other cases sometimes you have to pick your battles.
Prouder American December 16, 2012 at 06:57 AM
You're wrong, proud American. Range may have disclosed some things, but the chemicals they don't want to disclose are their 'proprietary trade secrets' that they do NOT disclose. Answer this question: do you believe the article in the New York Times which says the DEP is withholding data on Range Resources drilling sites in Washington County? A simple 'yes' or 'no' will suffice. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/us/pennsylvania-omitted-poison-data-in-water-report.html?_r=0
cecil resident December 16, 2012 at 03:06 PM
This is a very complicated case because the Attorney for Cecil Township,cases Robinson township, and Mt, Pleasant townships( who has ongoing cases for the named townships) firm is representing the Kiskadden family who states their illness has come from fracking where their well is in a junk yard that has possible oil and gas leaking in to the ground where the County Soil Survey has stated has a shallow seasonal high water table and is moderately permeable which means the fluids and other substances that drain from or come off junked vechicles are easily transmitted to groundwater and flooding doesn't help either. Since their are ongoing cases where decisions have not been made it wouldn't be fair to either side to form a rock solid opinion. Once again Rep. White wants us to believe what the New York time writes where he is mentioned but doesn't want us to believe what the Trib has written about him and his emails he state they are incomplete maybe this story is also incomplete
cecil resident December 16, 2012 at 03:34 PM
The state lab had been endorsed as “well-managed, efficient and highly functional” by the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Public Health Laboratories operate as a first line of defense to protect the public against diseases and other health hazards. Working in collaboration with other arms of the nation’s public health system, public health laboratories provide clinical diagnostic testing, disease surveillance, environmental and radiological testing, emergency response support, applied research, laboratory training and other essential services to the communities they serve. Public health laboratory scientists are highly educated specialists with knowledge of one or more scientific disciplines, advanced skills in laboratory practice and the ability to apply this expertise to the solution of complex problems affecting human health http://pubs.cas.psu.edu/freepubs/pdfs/uh183.pdf is a site for a little more education on what can pollute our ground water page 8 covers this situation very well
Donald Roessler December 16, 2012 at 04:58 PM
http://www.energyindepth.org/tag/jesse-white/ After doing some research on the environmental issues that junkyards cause I decided that I would rather live next to a gas well, which by the way I atready do, than a junkyard.
Donald Roessler December 16, 2012 at 05:01 PM
I also believe that Jessie White should be held accountable for his actions when his accusations are proven to be false because it has caused a lot of mistrust of the DEP before anything had been proven in a court of law.
Jesse White December 22, 2012 at 05:39 AM
It's going to be hard to have anything proven false when the DEP refuses to answer me, isn't it?
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Maybe you need to introduce some legislation to change the way the DEP releases information on these issues. It does raise a lot of concern amongst those of us who are for the gas as well as those opposed when they don't. I see the Supreme Court has ruled that the Hallowich case be unsealed. I'm interested in what happened there with the DEP too because it's our tax dollars that are at stake in these cases and I want to make sure evrything is square when we have to pay out these settlements. That's my biggest concern with everything here.
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 06:34 AM
If it turns out that they are doing something criminal that could cause health problems for people you bring the tar and I'll bring the feathers. My own experiences with the drilling has been good as they have a well right across the road from my property. They drilled nine holes on that pad.
Jesse White December 22, 2012 at 02:08 PM
Donald, look for DEP-specific legislation I'll be introducing when the Legislature comes back into session next month.
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thank you Mr. White. I'm a person who doesn't follow politics much but I will keep an eye out for it and if it's good I wish you the best of luck in getting it passed. And like I said on your previous post have a Merry Christmas.
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Mr White, I now you're critical about what EID says on their website and I can understand why but here's something that everyone needs to read. And you won't be upset after you read it. This blew my socks off I have to go to the other side of the room and retrieve them.
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Sorry here it is I forgot to post it. Hold on a minute I'll get it. I lost it for some reason.
Donald Roessler December 22, 2012 at 06:49 PM
http://eidmarcellus.org/marcellus-shale/natural-gas-conversation/16074/ Here it is sorry.
Donald Roessler December 23, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Mr. White after reading the above article and talking to you personally I have since went back and removed some of my posts from an earlier article on this subject that were uncalled for on my part and I apologize for my actions.

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