Pennsylvania

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Clean Air Council Seeks Federal Intervention with Marcellus Air Complaints

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Residents in the village of Rae, in Washington County, say they have complained to DEP of bad odors they think are related to gas drilling. Edna Moten says they've been frustrated by the agency's response.

The Clean Air Council says residents who have contacted the state Department of Environmental Protection about gas drilling related air pollution incidents are frustrated by the lack of response.  The Council sent a letter to EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin, asking the EPA to assist the DEP. The letter from Clean Air Council executive director Joseph Minott details complaints from 13 residents who experienced odors, or witnessed “opaque” emissions.

“The Council discovered that in some cases, complaints were made to PA DEP and were never fully investigated and in other cases, residents lost faith in PA DEP and stopped reporting pollution complaints to them.”

Minott says the Clean Air Council has since created its own system to log shale drilling related complaints. The online form includes reporting on health issues the residents think might be associated with the odor, or visible emission incident. Of those who have filled out the Clean Air Council survey, 75 percent listed health impacts during the visible emissions, including headaches, dizziness and vertigo. More than 60 percent experienced headaches soon after an odor event.

The Clean Air Council also says it’s tough to even reach DEP to report a complaint.

“Residents reported that the PA DEP complaint telephone number has not been working on several occasions in the past 8 months, and residents and Council staff have called during normal business hours and found that no one answered.”

And to make matters worse, those who did reach DEP, according to Minott, often described interactions with rude and dismissive field agents.

 

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