EPA Investigation Launched in Washington County, PA

Washington County is the most active county in southwestern Pennsylvania for Marcellus drilling, including most numbers of wells drilled, pipelines to transport the gas and compressor stations to power the pipelines. Word has just leaked that last September the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began a “multi-media” probe into drilling in Washington County. A multi-media probe means they analyze air, water and land impacts of drilling. Apparently the EPA doesn’t believe the PA Department of Environmental Protection can do its own job and needs an assist.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether specific Marcellus Shale drilling and compressor station operations in Washington County have caused environmental damage that violates federal regulations.

The federal "multi-media" investigation of air, water and hazardous materials impacts, which the EPA has not previously acknowledged, began in late September when on-site testing was done and is the initial stage of a possible enforcement action or actions.

"In Washington County, EPA has conducted inspections at active industrial operations including well pads and compressor stations," Terri White, an EPA spokeswoman at the agency’s Philadelphia regional office, said in an email response to questions last week.

"The EPA is assessing the findings of our air, water and hazardous waste investigations in Washington County," said Bonnie Smith, another EPA spokeswoman in Philadelphia, who noted that the agency will not disclose the names of the facility or facilities where testing has been done until the investigation is complete, and that’s expected to take "several more months."

"Washington County was chosen for multi-media inspections because there is a significant amount of oil and natural gas development occurring there," said Ms. Smith. "While natural gas operators employ various safeguards to minimize the risks inherent to the industry, legitimate concerns have emerged regarding potential environmental impacts."*

*Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Feb 13, 2012) – EPA probing Washington County shale operations

  • jwozniak

    About time. PADEP is doing a lackadaisical job of protecting the public and water resources. Example: the gathering line project here in Greene county right next to Dunkard Creek, which apparently has not been killed dead enough, has been proceeding apace for several months with sloppy to nonexistent erosion and sedimentation controls. We WELCOME EPA. This is how I want my federal, small business tax dollars spent!  

  • Anonymous

    The Obama EPA henchmen are being deployed to get there noses dirty and find ways they can collect some sort of fee or start a new tax, or maybe just shut the whole industry down so OPEC can continue bilking us. Why do they have to be secret locations? Answer, So, their findings can’t be disputed .HMMM,  I see these findings will come out about the same time Andy boy Cuomo makes his big decision on fracking in NY. How coincidental. Wonder how lined the pockets are getting in this new fight? Abdul, has his big checkbook ready and lobbying on the steps in Washington. As far as the EPA goes, they can’t even brush their teeth without proper instruction, these findings should be comical. I just hope that there are independent agencies testing going on to rebut the nonsense the EPA is going to come up with.