Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


EOG Resources Well Released Fracking Fluid, Natural Gas for 16 Hours

HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today that his agency intends to investigate aggressively the circumstances surrounding a blowout at a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, and take the appropriate enforcement action.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the operators of the well, which is owned by EOG Resources, Inc., lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale. As a result, the well released natural gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was eventually capped around noon on June 4.

“The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property,” said Hanger. “This was not a minor accident, but a serious incident that will be fully investigated by this agency with the appropriate and necessary actions taken quickly.

“When we arrived on scene, natural gas and frack fluid was flowing off the well pad and heading toward tributaries to Little Laurel Run and gas was shooting into the sky, creating a significant fire hazard. That’s why emergency responders acted quickly to cut off electric service to the area.

“Right now, we’re focused on limiting any further environmental damage, but once that work is complete, we plan to aggressively look at this situation and see where things went wrong and what enforcement action is necessary. If mistakes were made, we will be certain to take steps to prevent similar errors from happening again.”

DEP learned of the leak at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday after it was informed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. DEP immediately dispatched its Emergency Response and Oil and Gas program staff to the site.

PEMA, which elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state agencies, also worked with PennDOT to initiate an airspace restriction above the well, which the Federal Aviation Administration authorized on a temporary basis earlier today. The restriction prohibits flights at and below 1,000 feet of ground level within a three nautical mile radius of the well site. The restriction is in effect until further notice.

The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County. Three other wells on the same pad that have been drilled and fractured remain plugged and are not in danger.

EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.


Sustainable Energy Fund

For Immediate Release

(Allentown, PA) – In testimony filed today with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Sustainable Energy Fund (“SEF”) opposed PPL’s proposed rate increase in that it continues to align utility profits with increases in energy use, negatively impacts economic growth and is in part based on decreased revenues that have not yet and may never occur.

SEF’s Director of Technical Services, John Costlow stated that “under PPL’s proposal the distribution portion of the average residential bill will increase 27%.” Costlow continued that “those that use the least will see the greatest increases.”

Mr. Costlow points out that PPL proposes to increase the residential customer charge, a portion of the distribution charge, 82% and institute a demand charge on all commercial customers. Consequently, a residential customer who only uses 350 kWh per month will see their distribution charges increase 36.5% and a customer who uses 1500 kWh per month will see their distribution charges increase 17.9%. This move is part of a progression on PPL’s behalf to charge a flat rate for distribution regardless of how much electricity you use.

Over the next several years Pennsylvania and utility customers will spend more than a billion dollars to reduce their energy use and associated costs. One of the goals of the investments is to reduce utility bills leaving families with more disposable income. Utility bill savings are a significant driver of economic growth and jobs. A recent study by Oppenheim & MacGregor shows that nationally for each one million dollars invested in energy efficiency utility bill savings drive more than five million dollars in economic activity and associated jobs.

When speaking about customers who save energy Mr. Krall, PPL’s Manager of Regulatory Strategy, testified that “they are harming utility investors because the utility’s rate of return will be reduced until rates can be reset in a future proceeding.”

Mr. Costlow stated, “PPL’s proposal essentially takes back hard earned savings from customers who have reduced their usage” he continued “this is a drag on the local economy and a threat to jobs, the very two things we do not need right now with more than 590,000 Pennsylvanian’s out of work.”

As one of its recommendations to the Public Utility Commission, SEF proposed a cap to limit PPL’s revenues and better align PPL’s profit motive with its customers desire to reduce usage and cost.

About SEF- Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) is a private non-profit organization that promotes energy efficiency, renewable energy and education initiatives in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. SEF seeks out, focuses on, and invests in economically viable, energy related businesses, projects, and educational initiatives that create innovative, market-based technologies and solutions to enable environmentally sound and sustainable energy use. Headquartered in Allentown, SEF finances certain projects in the eastern PJM grid, which includes New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. By offering financial incentives that promote sound energy strategies, SEF can help municipalities, school districts, non-profits, farmers, manufacturing facilities, warehouses, transportation companies and other businesses save energy and reduce costs. SEF also provides educational services which include the Sustainable Scholars, Solar Scholars®, Wind Scholars, and the Sustainable Energy Conference being held in Easton this year.


Groups participating in the federal licensing process of the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 nuclear reactor on the Chesapeake Bay filed a new contention late Friday, June 25, 2010.

The contention charges that the NRC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) undercuts assertions filed in the license application by the proposed reactor’s owner, UniStar Nuclear, that electricity from Calvert Cliffs-3 would be produced for 3.1 to 4.6 cents per kilowatt/hour. According to UniStar’s license application, that cost number was derived from a 2004 study that put the construction cost of a reactor at $1200-1800 per kilowatt.

But the DEIS—using more recent estimates supplied by UniStar—put the estimated construction cost 300-500% higher, at $7200-9600 per kilowatt.

“UniStar has attempted to mislead the NRC—and the public—about the costs of Calvert Cliffs-3 both in absolute terms and in comparison to other possible sources of electricity,” charged Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, one of four organizations participating in the NRC licensing hearings.

“UniStar uses these grossly underestimated cost projections eight separate times in its application when comparing projected costs of electricity from Calvert Cliffs-3 to alternatives like wind and solar power,” explained Mariotte. “Even if it thought those numbers were correct when they first submitted their application in 2007, they are now on their sixth revision of the application and they’ve never updated those numbers. That’s probably because they know no one in Maryland would support the reactor if they were aware how much electricity from it would cost.”

The groups also pointed out that the DEIS—as well as UniStar’s license application—completely ignores the potential contribution of offshore wind power to the region’s electrical system, even though a company called Bluewater Wind has proposed building a 600 Megawatt wind farm off the Maryland coast, as well as large wind farms off the New Jersey and Delaware coasts.

The groups further charged that the DEIS failed to even attempt to quantify the possible contribution of solar photovoltaic power in the region, and that the DEIS failed to account for the decline in electrical demand in the region over the past three years and the impact of energy efficiency programs—thus overstating future need for electricity.

The DEIS and the license application are required by law to show a need for the project and to examine alternatives to the proposed project as well as provide a cost-benefit analysis.

“It’s easy to show a benefit if you understate your costs by 300-500%, disregard the generation potential of your competitors and overstate the need for your project,” said Mariotte. “But Marylanders—and U.S.taxpayers, who will be called on to loan the money to build this reactor—deserve better. An honest, defensible examination of the costs of this reactor, the actual need for its electricity, and potential alternative sources of electricity will show that Calvert Cliffs-3 is unnecessary, too expensive, and plenty of clean sources of electricity exist to meet whatever need for power does exist,” said Mariotte. “That’s why we submitted this contention—in the hope that the NRC will heed the warning signs and hold that honest hearing.”

The groups involved in the licensing proceeding are NIRS, Public Citizen, Beyond Nuclear and Southern Maryland CARES.

The full text of the contention is available at:



A coalition of environmental groups has stated that two recently released documents show that tritium leaks at the Oyster Creek Generating Station were caused, in part, by failures by the plant's owner to submit correct documents to support its license renewal application and a federal agency's failure to review those documents adequately.

Richard Webster, the legal director of the Eastern Environmental Law Center who represents the coalition said Tuesday that the first document is the complete root cause report for the April 2009 underground tritium pipe leaks at the Forked River facility. Tritium is a low level radioactive isotope which can be harmful in large concentrations.

Webster said that the report revealed "the basis used for license renewal was wrong and there was no independent review of the pipe inspection program leading to insufficient/nonexistent program reviews."

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From the Patriot News:

John Erickson has cut his electrical use at home as much as possible, from using compact fluorescent light bulbs to setting the heat at 65 in the winter. Short of “not using any lights whatsoever,” he said he and his wife can do nothing more.

“We’re pretty much at the far bottom of what we can cut,” said the retired educator from Hampden Township.


From Beyond Nuclear:

There is still time to act against expanded nuclear power loan guarantees before the U.S. House finalizes its supplemental war funding and disaster relief bill by its Independence Day recess.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee, chaired by Dave Obey (Democrat-Wisconsin), is considering an emergency supplemental war funding and disaster relief bill. The Obama administration has pushed for $9 billion in additional nuclear power loan guarantees to be attached as a rider onto this bill, thus attempting to rush part of a $36 billion expansion request to the nuclear power loan guarantee program, originally requested for next year's Fiscal Year 2011 budget, onto this fiscal year's budget.

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In this issue:

Popular Resistance Stops Site Preparations for NPP in India
'Uranium Is the New Asbestos': Union Ban on Nuclear Work
Uprating Nuclear Reactors Reduces Safety
Turkey: Hard Times Ahead
Banktrack Exposes Nuclear Secrets of Commercial Banks
Sellafield Cancer Statistics Will Remain a Secret
Australian Waste Dump Challenged in Court
NDA Announce Japanese MOX With the Sellafield MOX Plant
Obama Brings Back Space Nuclear Power

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By Marlene Lang

A gush of oil, a trickle of information, orders from the Coast Guard, stern words from the president. Invisible underwater pollution detected by scientists, official industry denial. Bribes and lies and brown birds that should be white.

Does anyone else share the eerie feeling that we are watching the end of the world as we know it?

I make this outlandish and hyperbolic statement not just because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the spill they can't stop. I say this because of previous oil spills, both reported and unreported, and because of the mysterious exploding wells in northwestern Pennsylvania where underground blasts release natural gas that sets well water aflame.  And because of coal ash beds leaking toxicity into America’s heartland. And one hundred other similar deadly messes.

As the oil flows, we are beholding the frightening power of energy industries to write their own regulations and then pay somebody to let them ignore them.

It’s time to take in the big picture. We can’t keep viewing every disaster as a single event. We must step back and look at the planet and ourselves on the planet and get some marriage counseling.

Humans running the planet: This was only an accident. ONE accident. She's making a mountain out of a molehill.

Planet Earth: But, dear, there have been other accidents. We don't even clean up one disaster before there's another. It's beginning to look like a pattern. It’s wearing on me.

Speaking of other accidents, does anyone remember Three Mile Island? To date, no one knows how much radiation was released before the reactor leak was brought under control. No one can prove that the cancer clusters in the plume in the years following were caused by the 1979 accident. All we have is suspicious statistics.

As my readers know, I keep an eye on the nuclear power industry and I've been called an alarmist for my insistence that it is only a question of when – not if – there will be another nuclear accident. The gulf gush underscored this for me. My prediction is not based on clairvoyance but on the pattern of small accidents and on probabilities over time. And on the fact that the high-level radioactive waste left behind after heavy metals are turned into electricity is piling up outside these plants, waiting for a starring role in the next great environmental disaster. Sorry, but nuclear power is not green and clean. It is radioactive and dangerous.

And I don't mean to pick on nuclear power and oil drilling while unfairly overlooking coal ash sludge. Generating power is dirty business, and yet we drag our proverbial feet on developing solar and wind power on any scale. Why? Oh, that's right, because the energy powers that be are in bed with the policy makers and regulators.

Planet Earth: I know he’s been cheating on me.

Humans running the planet: You can’t prove that. Look at all I’ve done for you, all the green programs in schools. It’s never enough, is it?

Indeed, we can only alter our energy habits so much, so fast. I could almost be seduced by the smooth words touted by the Nuclear Energy Institute: The American lifestyle is non-negotiable.

This rigidity, this stuck-ness in a lifestyle that demands dirty energy and lots of it, is the reason I raise a wild and far-out question like: "Are we witnessing the end of the world as we know it?" Are we going to unplug our laptops and give up our cars? This life we live is entrenched, with very little wiggle room. We know nothing else. We cannot all run off to isolated acreage in the West and build an idyllic off-the-grid life in candlelight. There are too many of us and, beside, we are nature inept.

Planet Earth: I feel like we’re strangers.

Humans running the planet: We are not strangers! We have thoroughly researched where all your energy deposits are.

Great-grandma’s gardening and canning skills have gone the way of the horse-drawn plow. And we can't be sure the earth we'd be tilling is not toxic. We've let corporations battle nature for us, and they are botching the job while we sit, glazed over in the HD glow of our favorite shows.

A lifestyle that is not sustainable is, before our news-viewing eyes, crossing some barely discernable point-of-no-return. The gush they cannot stop in the Gulf of Mexico may represent only the beginning of a long collapse, but unless we negotiate the American lifestyle – yeah, the industrial lifestyle – the collapse will come.

Planet Earth: I feel taken for granted. I’m sorry, but I just can’t sustain you any more.

Humans running the planet: You can’t do this. We need you.

Planet Earth: I know you need me. But you never loved me.


From Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes:

Two of the nation’s largest nuclear utilities are sounding a retreat from building new nuclear reactors in the near-term. In separate speeches Entergy (NYSE:ETR) CEO J. Wayne Leonard and Exelon (NYSE:EXC) CEO John Rowe said they do not want to take the risk of building new reactors.

They cite the low price of natural gas, the lack of a carbon tax to shift investment from fossil plants, and the risks of building a new reactor using the merchant model in de-regulated states.

Speaking at the Reuters Global Energy Summit held in Houston May 25, Leonard said that Entergy does not want to take the risk of building new reactors which is why it suspended two NRC license applications to build four new reactors in Mississippi and Louisiana.

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A Dauphin County woman picked up a mistake on an important piece of information sent out by Exelon Nuclear.

Sue Fink of Swatara Township got a mailer from Exelon which contained among other things, emergency evacuation routes from Three Mile Island.

Unlike most of us, she just didn't shove it in a drawer or in the garbage. She decided to read through it and noticed that the evacuation route from Conewago Township, Dauphin County was wrong.

"Well I was familiar with the names of roads in York County and grew up in Conewago Township in Dauphin County," she said. "So I realized they were York County roads."

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