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The EPA's case studies included Susquehanna County where this Cabot gas rig was working

Fracking and public health in Pennsylvania

Background

An investigation by StateImpact Pennsylvania revealed that Pennsylvania’s Department of Health had policies in place two retired employees say discouraged them from following up on complaints from the public related to Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

When StateImpact Pennsylvania first reported this story in June 2014, the department denied the existence of these policies, including a list of drilling-related “buzzwords.” Two weeks later, we obtained a copy. 

As a result of StateImpact Pennsylvania’s reporting, the Department of Health announced changes to its policies on handling drilling-related complaints in August. Now, Pennsylvania’s new governor, Tom Wolf is pledging to create a program to measure the potential impacts of drilling.

Listen to our accompanying broadcast report from December 2014 below:

Latest Posts

DRBC takes a step toward banning fracking in Northeast Pa.

Cheers erupted at the Delaware River Basin Commission meeting Wednesday on the campus of Bucks County Community College in Newtown after commissioners from three states including Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware, approved a resolution that could lead to a fracking ban in the Delaware River watershed. New Jersey abstained and the federal representative from the [...]

PA environmental regulators to consider health limits for PFOA

Pennsylvania’s Environmental Quality Board accepted a request to look at whether to set a health limit for the toxic chemical PFOA in drinking water, the board’s first such decision in its more than 40-year history. The board voted unanimously on Tuesday to accept a petition by the environmental group Delaware Riverkeeper Network which asked it to [...]

DEP issues few violations, one fine for Sunoco’s pipeline construction spills

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection has issued four Notices of Violation, one consent order and one fine to Sunoco Pipeline for dozens of drilling mud spills that occurred along the length of the Mariner East 2 pipeline construction project. The DEP released a statement on Friday describing its efforts to manage Sunoco’s construction of the [...]

Chesco residents deal with tainted water after Sunoco drills into aquifer

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact PA David Mano, a resident of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township, holds a sample of water taken from his well after the local aquifer was punctured by drilling for the planned Mariner East 2 pipeline. The first Dan Rich knew of it was when he came home from work last Wednesday, [...]

Fire fighting foam contamination sites clustered along Delaware River

A national mapping project detailing tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals used in fire fighting foams and nonstick frying pans shows a large number of those public water systems along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Researchers at Northeastern University and the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) based their map on federal drinking [...]

DEP fines Delco refinery for air pollution violations

Monroe Energy, an oil refiner in Delaware County, has agreed to pay $403,528 for releasing air pollutants that exceeded its permitted limits. Over the course of three years, between July 2013 and June 2016, Monroe’s violations included excessive releases of hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection reached an agreement [...]

EPA Region 3 union rep says Trump’s proposed cuts would hurt public health

The union representing employees with the Environmental Protection Agency says President Trump’s proposed cuts to the agency would risk public health. The administration is proposing to slash the EPA’s budget by 31 percent. That would include eliminating more than 3,000 jobs at the agency. Gary Morton is president of AFGE local 3631, which represents EPA [...]

Study: Methane levels increase as well sites decline

A new study shows that background levels of methane in Northeast Pennsylvania increased significantly at a time when well drilling activity decreased, pointing to leaks of natural gas during production and transportation. Researchers from Drexel University found that atmospheric levels of the potent greenhouse gas increased by 100 parts per billion between 2012 and 2015. [...]

Data trove offers new details on complaints to DEP during shale boom

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection received 9,442 public complaints about environmental problems in areas where unconventional natural gas development occurred from 2004 to the end of November 2016, an investigation reported, unveiling a trove of documents from the state’s natural gas boom. The three-year investigation conducted by the Pittsburgh-based Public Herald watch-dog website, said 4,108 of [...]

Marketplace: EPA’s last minute changes to fracking report downplayed risks

New documents have emerged that show the EPA downplayed the risks of fracking in a landmark report on the process used to extract oil and gas from shale. The last minute changes made by the EPA are documented in a story by the public radio show Marketplace and APM Reports. The news outlets obtained documents [...]

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