Un-Fracking Councilman Curtis Jones’ Twilight Zone Tour


Original photo by Frank Finan

Today, a tour sponsored by Marcellus Shale Coalition members and Philly Councilman Curtis Jones embarked on a journey to Susquehanna County to see shale country, as reported in Philadelphia Magazine.

According to the twilight zone tour invitation, the stops included two crime scenes, err…gas sites where Cabot Oil & Gas and Williams Pipeline Partners really screwed up in recent years. However, they were presented as model operations to the tourists. Here is the fact sheet we prepared for them to receive when the bus returns, thanks to volunteers with Philly EDGE.

Full Text:


The Facts You Didn’t Hear Today


The Aldrich Pad

Today, you visited the Aldrich well pad, where Cabot Oil & Gas was cited for four Environmental, Health, and Safety violations on July 23, 2014, as recorded in the PA Department of Environmental Protection Oil & Gas Compliance Report available online. (Here are all of Susquehanna County violations to date) The violations were cited by PA DEP after Cabot spilled up to five barrels of glycol onto the pad surface, contaminating the soil.

The DEP inspector wrote, “Due to excessive pressure or sand, the wash out of the dump line created a hole in the glycol bath. Glycol was released out of the hole inside the GPU eventually escaping the unit and impacting the concrete containment for the L1H GPU and 2H GPU and the ground surface of the well pad next to the units.  Staining and pools of glycol were observed inside and outside of the units and in an excavation (1) to (1.5) feet  below the pad surface next to the concrete containment of the 1H GPU. The spill is now estimated to be between (3-5) barrels, with (2-4) barrels impacting pad surface.

Cabot was cited for:

(1) Failure to adopt pollution prevention measures required or prescribed by DEP by handling materials that create a danger of pollution.

(2) Failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste.

(3) Failure to adopt pollution prevention measures required or prescribed by DEP by handling materials that create a danger of pollution.

(4) Pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances.

As of June 2015, Cabot has drilled 528 wells in Pennsylvania, racking up 656 DEP violations including one for hazardous well venting, 21 for failed cement well casings, 46 for spills, and 313 for potential for spill violations that threaten groundwater supplies. They are even unable to follow the most basic construction standards for their well pads, receiving 93 violations for inadequate site restoration, erosion, and sedimentation. They were cited 182 times for notification and paperwork violations. (Click for full spreadsheet)

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The Zick Compressor Station

Zick Compressors, Mountain View School District, Susquehanna County PA, (Video arc139)” on Youtube by Frank Finan


Williams’ Zick Compressor Station, one of 42 compressor stations in Susquehanna County, emits many tons per year of toxic pollutants that can be seen using a FLIR camera (pictured above).  The PA DEP permitted the facility in 2012 to emit 50 tons per year of volatile organic compounds (VOC), 100 tons per year of nitrous oxide (NOx), 25 tons per year of aggregate hazardous air pollutants, which include formaldehyde, and a total of 100 tons per year of fine particulate matter (PM), sulfur oxide (SOx), and carbon monoxide.

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To put this in perspective, a single diesel school bus is not allowed to idle for more than 15 minutes in Pennsylvania due to its harmful emissions, yet compressor stations run constantly. If the Zick Compressor’s emissions were counted as idling diesel school buses, it would total 238 buses worth of NOx, 364 buses worth of combined CO and PM, and 1,042 buses worth of VOC. This subjects all surrounding residents to harmful emissions, including the nearby Mountain View School District campus where children’s developing lungs are acutely impacted. (“Average In-Use Emissions from Urban Buses and School Buses” EPA, 2014)


Accidents at Zick

There have been at least two explosions at and near the Zick Compressor Station, both requiring a response from surrounding volunteer fire departments and PA DEP’s emergency response team and environmental clean-up team. Compressor station accidents are not tracked in the PA DEP’s Oil & Gas Compliance report.

On May 14, 2013, the station caught fire while eleven employees were on site. Everyone evacuated safely, but fire crews from four surrounding communities were called to the blaze. White smoke was visible 200 yards away as crews worked. The following morning, DEP found evidence of an explosion, disputing Williams’ claim that only a fire had occurred. (“DEP: Compressor stations shows signs of explosionWBNG, May 15, 2013)

On March 13, 2014, ice built up in an above-ground pipeline connection between the Jeffers Farms wells and the Zick Compressor Station near Route 106, causing the pipes to burst, releasing gas and untreated flowback brine, Williams spokesman Mike Atchie said in an email to the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

The vice president of the Loomis Lake Association said a residue, which appeared to have sprayed for about 150 feet, covered the ground on association property near a stream that eventually leads to the lake.

Residents from the Loomis Lake community, which is mostly a collection of summer cottages, were concerned that the release may affect the 37-acre lake. (“Ice blamed for gas pipeline burst” Times Leader March 14, 2014)

For a reality tour of shale gas development’s negative impacts and to meet its victims, contact Alex Lotorto, Shale Gas Program Coordinator, Energy Justice Network, (570) 269-9589, alex@energyjustice.net