- Grove City, Pennsylvania

July 27, 2012

DEP probing Pulaski drill site complaint

By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Allied News

LAWRENCE, MERCER COUNTIES — The gas and oil drilling industry has its share of watchdogs, including government agencies, environmental groups, landowners and concerned residents.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has been monitoring drilling activities for violations and are now investigating a complaint out of Pulaski Township, Lawrence County, said Kevin Sunday, an information specialist with DEP, Harrisburg.

Drill operators are required to report to DEP within 24 hours of any complaint of impacts to water supplies.

Hilcorp, which has a drill site in the township, got a complaint May 28 of a potentially impacted water supply but didn't report it to DEP until May 31.

"DEP continues to investigate the complaint," Sunday said.

DEP did issue Hilcorp a separate violation for sediment that ran off a drill site during a storm, he said.

And then there are watchdog groups run by people concerned about the ill effects of the fracking process, groups like Protect Slippery Rock Citizens' Rights, Citizens' Environmental Association of the Slippery Rock Area and the Alliance for Aquatic Resource Monitoring, or ALLARM, based out of Dickinson College.

William Drolsbaugh of Sharon, a retired forester, attended an ALLARM water testing training workshop at Westminster College on June 30.  Since June 2010, according to a news release, ALLARM has worked with more than 50 community groups across the state to collect and interpret water quality data. The grassroots training has provided more than 700 volunteers in 27 Pennsylvania counties with resources and equipment to monitor local creeks and streams for any harmful effects of Marcellus drilling.

The group has a wealth of information and Drolsbaugh learned more about the gas and oil industry, safe water testing and how to monitor water quality.

"The more you study this stuff, the more you find out about the bad things that happen," he said.

Drolsbaugh lives in an apartment and doesn't own any land, but he considers himself an example of how everyone should be worried about the potential the fracking process could have on the environment and drinking water.

"Proper disposal of that water is controversial," he said of the contaminated wastewater created by the fracking process.

He's been doing his research and urges others to do the same, especially anyone considering leasing their land for oil and gas drilling.

"You can't drink money," Drolsbaugh said of how some people don't think beyond the cash in hand because they're so swayed by the industry's sales pitch.

And the industry heads are touting long-term employment for drilling-related jobs, which Drolsbaugh doesn't believe.

"These jobs at best are two to three years," he said.

His next step is to get a water testing kit and Drolsbaugh said ALLARM's website has a lot of helpful information that's easy to understand.

"Do your homework," he said.

ALLARM on the web:

Published July 18, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.