11.10.11

Dairy Farm Protests in Butler County

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Butler County residents are protesting drilling operations at a dairy farm (pic at right from Marcellus Protest).

They report:

"There's no way this drilling can contaminate our milk," Larry Wendereusz, general manager of the dairy operating facility, said in an phone interview Friday. "Our milk is tested for everything ... we run all kinds of tests."

Members of the advocacy group Marcellus Outreach Butler believe otherwise. They chanted slogans and complained that the planned underground hydraulic drilling will put crops, livestock and milk at risk for contamination. The group gathered in front of the drilling rig that sits next to the Marburger property along Mars-Evans City Road.

"They're not being a good neighbor," Alex Stehman of Saxonburg said about the farm. She said she no longer buys Marburger milk in an attempt to send a message to the farm's owners. "Organic farmers are more responsible."

On last week's show we touched this issue briefly. There are some farmers leasing their land while many organic farmers allege their operations are threatened by gas operations' because of possible groundwater contamination, air pollution, methane migration into wells, and other issues. But gas companies and some farmers argue these worries are unfounded and possibly hysterical.

In 2010, 28 cows were quarantined after exposure to fracking fluid. This year a Chesapeake Energy well blew out in Leroy Township sent thousands of gallons of frack water into a nearby stream for at least 12 hours. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has said that the stream was not compromised and fined Chesapeake over $1 million. DEP said:
“It is important to me and to this administration that natural gas drillers are stewards of the environment, take very seriously their responsibilities to comply with our regulations, and that their actions do not risk public health and safety or the environment,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “The water well contamination fine is the largest single penalty DEP has ever assessed against an oil and gas operator, and the Avella tank fire penalty is the highest we could assess under the Oil and Gas Act. Our message to drillers and to the public is clear.”
Protesters
have some warrant given some recent history. But what are the chances that cow's milk could be contaminated with gas drilling pollutants? Does anyone even have this data?

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