Five protestors arrested at Pa. state forest drilling site
The Williamsport Sun-Gazette reports five protestors were arrested on Thursday after blocking access to workers at a drilling site in Tiadaghton State Forest in Lycoming County.
According to the Sun-Gazette, it took firefighters more than two hours to free the protestors from Marcellus Shale EarthFirst who had chained and cemented their arms to a pipe stretched across the main road to the well pad operated by Anadarko Petroleum:
Trooper James A. Wool, the lead investigator, said in an affidavit that as firefighters cut into the pipe, “it was determined that the pipe was filled with concrete, nails and other metal objects, making it impossible to safely cut it.”
A blade on one of their power saws broke, he added.
Using sledge hammers, air chisels and electric saws, firefighters managed to free all three protesters by 11:30 a.m. No one was injured, and all three were turned over to state police.
“They were peaceful. They were not rude or ignorant,” the firefighter said of the protesters. “They actually apologized for the inconvenience,” he added.
The five activists who were arrested were unable to post bail and spent the night in Lycoming County Prison, the Sun-Gazette reports.
The protest centered on Anadarko’s plans to expand drilling in the Loyalsock State Forest, as well as Governor Corbett’s proposal to allow more leasing of public lands for natural gas development. The Sun-Gazette reports a larger group of activists also held a rally Thursday outside the company’s local headquarters in Williamsport:
The group, which numbered about 25, stood in front of the Lycoming County court house across the street from the building that houses Anadarko’s offices, waving signs and chanting along to the beat of a tambourine and a makeshift drum.
“Hey hey! Ho ho! Anadarko’s got to go!” they chanted.
Danielle Dietterick, media spokeswoman for the group, explained that Anadarko was the specific target of the protest because of their previous actions with regard to drilling.
“This demonstration is directly related to this specific corporation and their negligence in drilling in state forests,” she said.
Dietterick was referring to Anadarko’s history of pollution and compliance problems since it began operating in northcentral Pennsylvania.
According to StateImpact Pennsylvania’s Shale Play map app, Anadarko has received 141 violations from the state Department of Environmental Protection and paid $9,641 in fines as of August 2013.
On Thursday, an Anadarko spokesman told StateImpact that the company respects the protestors’ rights to express their views, “as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the safety of the community or our personnel.”