AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

February 19, 2013

Watchdog group urges water testing ASAP

By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Allied News

LAWRENCE, MERCER COUNTIES — Paying roughly $1,000 for a water test might seem like too much, but to people like Carrie Hahn and other members of the Fracking Truth Alliance of Lawrence and Mercer Counties, having the assurance that your water is safe to drink and use means a lot.

"People need to go above and beyond," Hahn said Thursday of the safeguards people should practice if they live on or near a drilling site.

She is hoping people who live near the Hurtt well in East Lackawannock Township, which is visible from Interstate 80 near the Mercer exit, will join her in testing their water with help from what the Alliance considers a trustworthy company.

"We spent a lot time researching this," she said of Appalachia Water, Hallstead, Pa.

Hahn, of Volant, lives about three miles from the well, which is run by Chevron Appalachia LLC. She has heard the rig itself is supposed to come down within the next week to make way for the hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" process.

That's why she urges nearby property owners to get their water tested now, so they have baseline results they can compare to water samples during and after the fracking to see if any harmful chemicals have contaminated their water.

She and other members of the Alliance, a self-described watchdog group, do not trust the tests that the gas and oil companies do for free -- they're not extensive enough to show everything that could be in the water.

The group did a lot of research to find a company that has no connections to the gas and oil industry and they determined Appalachia Water to be reputable.

"Gas companies cannot tear apart the validity of their testing," Hahn said.

She recommends that anyone who lives within a half-hour drive of the Hurtt well to order the test. Hahn, who is getting her water tested next week, is looking for other residents to join her.

"The more people who test in a group, the better the price," she said.

The Appalachia Water top tier tests usually cost $1,100, but a group rate could bring that down to $950 per test.

Hahn has been busy trying to recruit other property owners and sent out about 50 postcards, but no one has committed to ordering the test with her.

The kind of testing Appalachia Water provides will "stand up in court" if fracking on or near your property causes harmful chemicals to enter your water supply, she said.

And time is running out because the Hurtt site is close to starting the fracking process, Hahn said of what she can tell from her visits to the property.

She's talked to a security guard at the main gate who claims to know nothing about activities on the site.

He has tried to bring the site manager to the gate to talk to Hahn but all attempts so far have failed.

"I've been to the gate a couple of times," she said.

For more information, call Hahn as soon as possible at 412-337-1671.

Email and phone messages left with Chevron's media relations department on Thursday afternoon weren't immediately returned, but Gary Clark, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection said Chevron started drilling Nov. 1 on the Hurtt property.

He doesn't expect fracking to start as soon as next week but said Chevron is required to give DEP a 24-hour notice before they begin.

DEP has inspected the site 13 times and found no violations, Clark said.

Fracking has spurred a boom in natural gas drilling in 34 states while raising concerns about the toll on the environment and public health.

The process has made it possible to tap into energy reserves across the nation but also has raised concerns about pollution, since large volumes of water, along with sand and hazardous chemicals, are injected deep into the ground to free the oil and gas from rock.

The ALLARM web site: https://sites.google.com/site/lawrencecountyallarm/

Appalachia Water Quality Baseline Testing: 888-240-1984; www.appalachiaconsulting.com

Published Feb. 9, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.