A week or so after my husband and I attended a township meeting related to private well contamination in Plumstead Township, we were invited to a breakfast meeting with Pennsylvania State Representative Marguerite Quinn.
With all of the recent water quality issues and reports of declining water supplies in our area, we hoped the meeting would provide an opportunity to learn more about what’s happening and see if there’s anything we can do to preserve and protect our water.
The meeting was held at The Oaks Family Restaurant in Pipersville, PA, on September 9. It was free and included breakfast. We arrived just in time to grab two of the few empty seats. There were about 30 people in attendance.
It was an open forum. Host Marguerite Quinn was clearly willing and able to discuss and explain every topic that was raised by attendees. One woman asked about PA’s marriage law. There was a little talk about Pennsylvania’s transportation. Someone brought up prevailing wages. Most notably, there was a whole lot of discussion about the quality and quantity of water in Pennsylvania, especially as it relates to Marcellus shale drilling.
There seemed to be a general consensus that there is no fool-proof, risk-free way to drill for gas, and the possibility of water being contaminated via the drilling process cannot be eliminated. The chemicals that are used during the drilling process do indeed end up in our water supply. It seemed that no one believed that any amount of money spent on studying and testing the drilling procedures can ensure that drilling is safe for our water supply. There was also a lot of concern expressed about the amount of water that is used to drill.
The meeting left me with a lot of questions. While drilling for natural gas provides an opportunity to make money by extracting the valuable natural gas, the ultimate cost of clean-up, if clean-up is even possible, is unfathomable. What will be the cost of having contaminated water supplies? Contaminated crops? Higher healthcare costs? Hazardous waste clean-up? What will happen to the value of homes with private drinking wells if the well becomes contaminated?
It’s excellent that we the people have the opportunity to express our opinions at these types of meetings, but how our opinions and concerns will be put to use is yet to be seen.
The EPA provides a list of the chemicals that are used during the process. Learn more about Marcellus shale drilling here: http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/new_forms/marcellus/marcellus.htm.