This past Monday, Cecil Township held a Board of Supervisors meeting, where attendees discussed a future meeting (scheduled for tomorrow, Aug. 9) that would provide an opportunity for PADEP to answer questions regarding the infamous Worstell Impoundment.
While this would appear to be an excellent opportunity for the group of six supervisors to resolve a matter of potential litigation before it gets that far, Supervisor Andrew Schrader took Monday’s meeting as an opportunity to run through a laundry list of bizarre talking points:
“We are talking about potential groundwater contamination, a faulty leak detection system. An impoundment being constructed without a permit, an impoundment being left in service well past the point when it should be restored and potential air quality issues. Cecil township has become a dumping ground for hazardous waste from all over the area and we need to be able to ask the DEP why and have them answer us in public. The impoundment in Cecil does not economically benefit the township or its residents in any way shape or form. It does not create one job or put one dollar in the pockets of the people in Cecil.” (0:45)
Many, if not all, of Schrader’s concerns appear to merely be “what if” scenarios. What exactly does “potential for groundwater contamination” mean, after all? If a person gets in the car and heads to the grocery store, he or she may get into an accident, or a dozen other problems have the “potential” to occur. Does that require a public investigation?
Most tellingly, Schrader speaks about a supposedly “faulty leak detection system,” when in fact there was a minor incident at the site in 2012 where a faulty valve caused 30 gallons of flowback to spill onto the site. Because of their excellent leak detection system, the operator was able to mitigate and correct the situation immediately. That sounds like a successful detection system, not a faulty one.
Moreover, here is what PADEP had to say about the Worstell leak detection system:
“In terms of monitoring wells, they were constructed and placed during the original construction of the impoundment. The company went a step further and put a redundant drainage system on the site. This system runs underneath the site so in an instance that anything got past the double lined impoundment it would be guided to the drainage system and to holding so nothing ever comes in contact with the environment. This was a best practice that Range utilized, which is currently required, but was not at that time required by the DEP. The company was applying best practices and using monitoring wells to provide additional data indicating that groundwater is protected.”
Schrader also claims there is no economic benefit to having this infrastructure in Cecil Township. The township has received a total of $476,749.48 through impact fees associated with shale development. Would hundreds of thousands of dollars qualify as “no economic benefit,” or could it be that Mr. Schrader was merely grandstanding?
Schrader also claims “the impoundment was constructed without a permit.” It’s an interesting perspective, mostly because the permit from DEP is easily accessible online. Besides complying with all PADEP permitting requirements, Range Resources also sent letters to the Cecil Supervisors notifying them that a dam permit had been requested for the Worstell site.
So either Mr. Schrader refused to read Range’s prior notification (which would suggest Schrader was not doing his job), or he knew that the Supervisors had been notified and claimed the opposite anyway.
Of course, we’re not the only ones who watched in disbelief as Mr. Schrader unleashed a torrent of demonstrable falsehoods. During Supervisor Schrader’s speech, a majority of the residents present exclaimed that a public meeting was not even necessary, and that the supervisors should simply do their jobs: attend the meeting with PADEP, get the information they needed, and repeat that information to the residents. As one local citizen explained:
“This guy (Andrew Schrader) he’s the only one fighting. You people, you don’t like the gas, why don’t you find another way to heat your house, cook your food, wash your clothes and everything else? People are always fighting against prosperity, but yet they want everything. You don’t want anything in your backyard, well okay — there’s no garbage dump around here, but your garbage goes somewhere, like Chartiers township. (14:92)
Supervisor Schrader’s motion for a public meeting to repeat more of this nonsense fell flat for the lack of a second by the other Cecil Supervisors. However, the supervisors did state any residents with questions for PADEP could give those to the supervisors and they would be asked during the meeting. Hopefully Supervisor Schrader can get his questions answered, but something tells me that’s not what he really wants.
Fortunately, the others do want answers – and they want answers based on facts. Good for them!