The Bay Daily is published by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which is deeply concerned with the immediate and cumulative environmental impacts of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. The Susquehanna River is the primary watershed for this already beleaguered, though no less beloved, bay. A recent article by Tom Pelton, Video Investigation of Gas Drilling Sites Reveals Invisible Air Pollution, drew a lot of national attention because it is chock full of infrared footage of compressor stations and drilling sites, clearly showing what we can't see with the naked eye but nevertheless inhale.
Throughout Pennsylvania, drillers are venting potent yet invisible toxins - Volatile Organic Chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene and toluene - into the very air we breathe. The infrared photos prominently display plumes of carcinogens billowing upwards into our skies. These chemicals are also condensing on our land, frosting our windshields, and finding their way into our crops and streams.
Persistent nosebleeds, especially among children, are becoming more common in high activity areas yet, sadly, this is among the least of the growing number of afflicted residents' health concerns. To quote Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University, "I would not want to be breathing the air downstream of these rigs."
Local TV news crews get it. Some, such as Jim Parsons of WTAE Team 4 in Pittsburgh, have filed powerful reports, clearly a little freaked by what they saw through their infrared lenses. WTAE aired the item, What's Spewing Into The Air We Breathe? What Are Marcellus Shale Drilling Operations Doing to Local Environment? in February 2011. The images Team 4 captured will literally blow you away.
Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Scientist, Harry Campbell, joins many other major environmental organizations who are calling for a comprehensive study of fracking. He recommends "A cumulative impact analysis by the federal government that will look at all the impacts to the environment, the air, the land, the water, the socio-economic impacts. That is what's necessary."
One glimpse at what we don't see and it certainly looks that way.