Posts Tagged ‘natural gas sites’
MICHAEL J. RUDOLF, Susquehanna County Independent
Published: July 14, 2010
About two dozen employment recruiters, business representatives and others toured some natural gas sites in Susquehanna County on Wednesday, learning what jobs will be available in the industry.
Victoria Switzer watches the trucks, at least 100 of them she estimates, ramble past her Dimock Township home every day. They go back and forth from the Cabot Oil and Gas drill sites, hauling equipment, waste water and materials.
She worries what would happen if there was a spill, if the operator wasn’t properly licensed, if the truck wasn’t mechanically sound.
For years she’s been calling state officials and complaining about their speed, their actions and what she saw as violations. Last week some agencies heeded the call of Switzer and others like her and made a concerted effort to send a message to the truck operators that though they are permitted to operate, they need to do so legally.
During a three-day enforcement effort last week that focused on trucks hauling waste water from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations across the state, the state police placed 250 commercial vehicles out of service.
State Police Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski said state troopers worked in partnership with personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as part of Operation FracNET.
In total, 1,137 trucks were inspected from June 14-16.
“Pennsylvania has experienced significant increases in heavy truck traffic in areas where Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations are taking place, particularly in Bradford, Clearfield, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington counties,” Pawlowski said. “The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, requires significant amounts of water to be delivered to the sites and later trucked away.”
He said the enforcement effort centered on identifying commercial vehicle safety deficiencies that could lead to crashes. Pawlowski said 131 of the 250 vehicles placed out of service were trucks hauling waste water. He said 669 traffic citations and 818 written warnings were issued as the result of waste water truck inspections. In addition, 23 of the 45 drivers placed out of service during the operation were waste water vehicle operators.
“As activities at natural gas sites continue to increase, it is important that everyone involved, including the waste transportation industry, understands Pennsylvania’s environmental and traffic safety laws and complies with them,” said DEP Secretary John Hanger.
“Cracking down, I’m thrilled to see it,” said Switzer, who is one of a dozen property owners in the Susquehanna County township that have had their well water polluted by oil drilling. “Better late than never.”
Mark Carmon, spokesman for DEP’s Northeast Regional office, said that three trucks were cited in Susquehanna County out of the 30 that were stopped. Two of the trucks were not carrying Prevention Preparedness Contingency plans, which list what chemicals are being hauled, emergency contact numbers in case of a spill and plans for cleanup. One of the trucks did not have proof of waste hauling certification, and one truck did not have its waste log book listing what it was hauling and from and to where.
Carmon said the operation provided “a good opportunity to check these trucks” and said it will be an ongoing measure.
Lt. Myra A. Taylor, a state police spokeswoman, said a decision was made to “make a concerted effort to blitz these particular areas,” in part, because of concerns raised by residents.
“I applaud the citizenry,” Taylor said. And she echoed Carmon’s comments that these inspections will not be a one-time event.
“We will be ever vigilant,” she said.
State Rep. Karen Boback, R-Harveys Lake, praised the offices involved in the operation.
“I applaud our state agencies and the state police for working together to monitor frack water hauling operations. It is vital that we continue to scrutinize every phase, aspect and offshoot of the drilling process, and I encourage law enforcement to persist in efforts to root out those operators who are not acting in accordance with Pennsylvania laws and potentially endangering the lives and health of Commonwealth residents, along with our environment,” she said.
Taylor said the truck violations found ran the gamut mechanical issues to overweight trucks. Driver citations included drivers operating without a proper license and drivers who were operating without enough rest or working too many hours in a day.
A list of what trucking companies were cited was not available by the state police or DEP.
A statement from the executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a pro-drilling organization, said steps have been taken and will continue to be taken to reduce gas-related truck traffic.
Copyright: Times Leader