Appalachian Basin

Remember When The Sky Was Falling?

Many of our readers in New York and Pennsylvania  vividly recall the recent floods.  Just a few short weeks ago thoughts centered around filling sandbags, worrying about the safety of loved one’s and cleanup and recovery. While most folks worried about these concerns, others were bent on manufacturing a crises where non existed.  They dispatched crews to photograph inundated natural gas sites throughout Pennsylvania. No photo’s were taken because this situation did not exist.  Undeterred, they circulated photo’s of flooded natural gas operations in Pakistan to drive their point home.

In scouring the globe for pictures of flooded natural gas sites these “clean water warriors” missed  something you think they would be apt to find.  Quite simply they missed actual water pollution.  Specifically, the massive inundation of the American Cyanamid Superfund site in Bridgewater, NJ which contaminated over 200 million gallons of freshwater with heavy p0llutants like metals, benzene, xylene and a host of other volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s) (more after the jump.)

Flooded American Cyanamid Superfund Site

The amount of water overwhelmed the site and its pollutant-laden chemical waste impoundments containing nearly 900.000 tons of toxic waste materials according to U.S. EPA estimates. These chemicals then contaminated the water that infiltrated the site and the surrounding environment.  In fact, according to news reports the EPA authorized some of this contamination to begin necessary remediation and cleanup at the site.  According to EPA spokesperson Bonnie Bellow:

In order to get the pump and treat system up and running to get the cleanup of any damage that occurred from the storm underway, that water had to be released.

As if this surface water pollution wasn’t bad enough it is not the beginning or the end of this site’s long history of pollution.  In fact, earlier this year the Edison Wetlands Association discovered the site was seeping benzene at an astonishing rate from 2 of the sites 14 chemical lagoons.  The seep was so large that it contaminated groundwater there at levels 20,000 times over the regulatory level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By itself this event is a tragedy.  Combine the hundreds of water treatment plants that overflowed, the fertilizers washed from yards, and the thousands of pounds of debris and sediment picked up along the way and its an epic disaster.  So much so in fact residents doing the hard work of cleaning up were advised to have minimal to limited contact with the toxic muck left behind.

I wrote about a similar episode previously in “The Curious Case of Water Pollution“.  This article highlighted a fire at a wastewater treatment plant that dumped millions of gallons of raw sewage into the waters surrounding New York City.  The example is different but the message is the same.  Every day our nation’s water resources suffer from very real threats and examples of pollution. In fact, our society pollutes an estimated 850 million gallons of water each year from sewage alone.  Of all of this pollution, zero is attributable to natural gas development.  Don’t take our word for it, ask any number of Federal or State regulatory officials and they will tell you themselves.

If only “fractivists” cared about water pollution perhaps they would dedicate their energies to stopping pollution that is significantly impacting this precious resource everyday.  While this would be ideal for now I suppose they will continue their attempts to villanize an energy source they don’t personally agree with using water pollution, or the potential of its existence, as a convenient excuse to do so.


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