In tune with gas drilling issues

Date: February 28, 2011

Bands play at Brews Brothers West at a fundraiser for Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition.

By Jerry Lynott
Business Writer

LUZERNE – Half came for the music, half came in support of efforts to protect the region\’s water and land against potential harm from the natural gas drilling industry, and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition thanked them all.

The coalition held a $10-a-person fundraiser Sunday night at Brews Brothers West and approximately 300 people attended, said spokeswoman Paula Chaiken.

The bands Southern Sky and As Is performed. XCountry reunited for the event. The money raised will help with the coalition\’s public awareness campaign.

“We\’d love to do more billboards” and other forms of advertising, said Chaiken.

Two issues top the coalition\’s list of concerns: the proposed location of a natural gas compressor station near the Dallas School District campus on Hildebrandt Road, and the possible construction of a treatment facility at the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority for waste water from hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” used to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.

“If they want to do it, it should be located where there aren\’t population centers,” Chaiken said of the compressor.

The treatment facility would bring heavy traffic of tanker trucks through the neighborhoods around the sanitary authority in Hanover Township, added coalition and XCountry member Scott Cannon. In addition, the sanitary authority is located in a flood plain along the Susquehanna River and he wondered what would happen to the “fracking” fluid in the event the Susquehanna River spills over the levee system protecting the Wyoming Valley.

There has been numerous accidents from drilling that have contaminated the water and soil, said Tom Jiunta, founder and president of the coalition.

“We wouldn\’t put up with it with any other industry,” said Jiunta.

Even though Encana Oil & Gas USA Inc. decided not to continue drilling in Luzerne County, it doesn\’t mean it\’s over, he said. People who signed leases with Encana are looking to get other companies interested in them, said Jiunta.

State Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston, attended the fundraiser and said she supported the coalition\’s efforts to alert people to the possible dangers of natural gas drilling. Mundy said she introduced a number of bills including calling for a one-year moratorium on drilling and buffer zones around reservoirs. She planned to reintroduce them again and attach them as amendments to any legislation dealing with the Marcellus Shale.


Jerry Lynott, a Times Leader staff writer, can be contacted at 570 829-7237.


Copyright: Times Leader


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