Saturday, April 19, 2014

911 -- Emergency! Water contamination map NE PA

Share this:
On Facebook: 

The contamination in NE Pennsylvania from gas drilling 
is far worse than anyone knows. 

Here is a DREADFUL new map.
I wish this were not true. I am sick inside.
I am sorry. I am only the messenger.

Weighted presentation (with wells)
This map represents 220 individual complaints.

This map was created using a data-set of PA DEP Determination Letters discovered by Laura Legere, Scranton Times Tribune, obtained by Right to Know Request, and published May 19, 2013 in the article, "Sunday Times review of DEP drilling records reveals water damage, murky testing methods".

For this map, I included not just the positive determinations (gas drilling known to be the cause of the problem), but also all complaints in the Legere dataset. 

Why? Two reasons. 

1) Complaints are more objective than PA DEP determinations. We have seen MANY instances where the PA DEP under Gov. Corbett have colluded with industry, manipulated test results (such as the "Suite Code 942" scandal), and failed to perform due dilligance in protecting the rights of the Citizens of the Commonwealth to clean air and water. (Such as the three families and a business in Franklin Forks, Susquehanna County). 
2) PA DEP "positive determinations" are made politically, not scientifically. When the PA DEP issues a "positive determination", it is solely because the distance between the water well and the vertical shale-gas well bore is within 2,500'ft, as determined by Act 13. This distance was determined by a deal between the drillers, and the legislators, and maybe some industry-friendly NGOs. This distance was not based on scientific methods. 
The source database of 971 records is redacted, so the exact locations of the sites are not known.In almost every request, the name of the homeowner and the address were redacted. However the township is present in the dataset, hence the per-township granularity of this map.

 There are ~9 townships in Bradford County,  plus ~7 townships in Susquehanna County where precise locations of about 50 sites have been determined and the names of the impacted persons known, ether by myself, or via several confidential sources I used for this report. (I have personal knowledge of about 15 actual sites). 

Range of Water Quality Complaints:

The complaints represent a change in a broad range of properties of water:
a) DISSOLVED METHANE: bubbles in water, in some cases at explosive levels,
   water that lights on fire
b) COLOR: brown, orange, white, or black are commonly reported
c) ODOR: water takes on foul odors
d) VISCOSITY: water is gelatinous, like jelly, with suspended bubbles
e) OIL: water has an oily sheen
f) SOLIDS: water has suspended solids
g) MAGNETIC water has visible iron particles, which are attracted to a magnet
h) TASTE: water tastes bad
i) HEALTH IMPACTS: humans or animals sick/dying

A word about using confidential sources:

There are many reasons why people who have water contamination prefer to be anonymous. Here are a few:

  • Gas industry bullies will attack you (as the Sautners were attacked by Phelim McAleer and Energy in Depth).
  • Your neighbors with gas-leases will ostracize you. "Why do you want to make trouble and ruin this for all of us? Just keep your mouth shut".
    "Franklin Citizens for Truth": a group of leased landowners,
    organized by the local gas driller, who came on Nov 1, 2013 with a court order,
    to assist the gas company in removing water tanks
    from two homes with contaminated water,
    which would have rendered the homes uninhabitable.
  • Your home is your largest investment. If it becomes known that your township, and your property specifically, has water contamination, your home will become worthless.

I will work with bona fide journalists, and scientific investigators in identifying my sources if a promise is made to respect the privacy of the victims.

I would say I could, fairly easily,  get precise locations for some sites in about 16 townships.
(9 in Bradford and 7 in Susquehanna Co.) subject to privacy concerns.

This map shocked me.

I try to be well informed of what is going on in Pennsylvania.
However: This map shocked me.

I know that some of my confidential sources who live in the Gasfields of PA and are extremely well informed, also had no idea the extent of the water contamination.

NE PA is only 2% to 20% developed.


The data does not suggest the entire township has bad water.
However, each colored township has at least one site of water contamination. 

Each site may contain several affected homes.
Several townships have multiple sites, each with multiple homes.

Unweighted map:

Unweighted Map: Townships in Bradford and Susquehanna County with known or suspected cases
of water contamination from gas drilling and fracking. This map represents 220 individual complaints. All townships colored brown have at least one site with reported water contamination.
Weighted map:

Based on feedback from my colleague Cris McConkey, I decided to try an attempt at a weighted map, which shows the townships according to the number of complaints filed with the PA DEP according to the Laura Legere / Scranton Times Tribune RTK dataset. 

I used a powers-of-two scale, so that each step shows approximately double the number of complaints in the previous step. 

Weighted presentation (no wells)
This map represents 220 individual complaints.

Weighted; Bradford, Susquehanna, Lycoming, Tioga, Sullivan, and Wyoming Counties. 
This represents 313 water contamination complaints
220 from two counties (Bradford and Susquehanna).
received by PA DEP from 2008 to Fall 2012 (about ~57 months).
Any cases reported since then (~18 months) are not included.
(There are likely 100 additional cases not represented here if the rate of new cases is linear)


Out of these totals:

29 of 37 townships in Bradford Co.  (78% of all townships in the county)

15 of 27 townships in Susquehanna Co. (56% of all townships in the county)


44 of 64 (69%) total towns in two counties with contaminated water.


When I look at the map of Susquehanna County and Bradford County with all those holes, it reminds me of passing a road-sign which has been shot with bullet holes.

So my last word for the frackers who are shooting up the land I hold to be precious:

Press Contact: William Huston,
Phone: 607-321-7846

Share this:
On Facebook:   

Who can help us? Please stop this insanity.



Dory Hippauf said...

can you send me a larger pic of the map? thanks

Bill Huston said...

Dory, I fixed the link. If you click on the image now, it takes you to the large size, which you can download.

Here is a direct link to the large image.

Vera said...

thanks, Bill,
this is very important;
needs to be known;
it is becoming more prevalent with