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Friday, September 26, 2014

On a beautiful late summer day, the green rolling hills of western Pennsylvania seem a picture of tranquility and rural bliss. But up close to the growing infrastructure of natural gas fracking, it’s a different story.

"Sitting on a bench on the grounds of Summit Township School, (Penni Lechner) describes what happened over the past couple of years when XTO, a subsidiary of Exxon, set up shop nearby. “They put the drilling rig up, then they put a bigger drilling rig up and that went on for almost a year, and then they fracked it,” Lechner recalls. “They put a bunch of chemicals into the ground. And then they flared it off. Last school year the first two days of school they flared it. They didn’t even wait for the kids to not be here, they just flared it. There was methane shooting up 250 feet into the air. There’s an impoundment pond back there, and that holds chemical water. There’s no fence there; the kids can just walk right up there if they want to.” [...]
                                              Crystal Yost and Penni Lechner.
“We are worried about health effects on the children from air emissions, the air pollution, the VOCs,” says Yost, who along with other parents has organized against that plan as well, and so far the state Department of Environmental Protection has not issued drilling permits. “We are worried about an accident, specifically if there were to be an explosion, in some other cases in PA specifically, they have a one to two mile radius of evacuation. So if this well pad exploded within a half mile of the school, theoretically the entire school district would be in an evacuation zone, and we just felt it’s not using common sense to put your school district in an evacuation zone.” [...]

David Brown is a toxicologist who works with the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project, which has identified many residents with health problems. “They were seeing effects in 30-40 percent of the people who were reporting, and there were a dozen or more different health effects,” Brown says of another study from Earth Works that showed similar results to the Yale study. “They ranged from rashes to difficulty breathing to heart problems to confusion; a lot of cognitive effects; headaches, and an intense sense of fatigue. There were differences between those people who were within 1,500 feet of a facility and those that were outside 1,500 feet of a facility. You shouldn’t interpret that beyond 1,500 feet there weren’t effects, because there were effects even there. We would expect you’d have to be out a minimum of a mile, and maybe two miles."  (SWPAEHP)