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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Smoke from gas plant in Washington County alarming to neighbors

"Over the weekend, while MarkWest installed the equipment, liquid fuels from natural gas drilling were sent up the plant's smokestack to be burned off in open air. The process is known as flaring. But tests of the new equipment produced roiling black clouds of pollution along with giant flames that made it appear from a distance as a major house fire. [..]

John L. Obenour, 84, whose Hornhead Farm sits next to the plant, said he went to the plant Monday to complain after repeated episodes of billowing black smoke found their way to his property. He said he has black soot on his window seals and black streaks on his roof. Such episodes have happened several times, he said. "I could detect a smell because the atmosphere was so heavy, as it is," he said. "The last couple of days I could detect that smell and the god-dang black stuff in the air was settling this way and that. "You can't stop progress, and I never want to be a thorn in their side," he said. "But I also want to have clean air." Raina Rippel, director of the Environmental Health Project based in Peters, said, "We have had concern for some time about residents' health and safety living in close proximity to this site, and this event magnifies those concerns.""

Are we ready for this in the Ligonier Valley, people? Who wants it in their backyard? (Or are folks counting on the "lower hanging fruit" -- those poorer parts of PA with weak local governments -- being sacrificed to the fracking industry? Are people holding their breath - pun intended - that it won't happen "too much" here?) Again: In your back your neighbor's field just a lungful of air away?