SPECIAL PROTECTION WATERSHEDS: Victims of Repeated Abuse and Lingering Pollution in PA

David Hess published a story October 29th about microplastics being found in ALL of Pennsylvania’s BEST trout streams tested. This disturbing news revived my memories of repeated fracking spills into our county’s Special Protection watersheds, over one 4 year period. Here are both our stories.
Before drilling and fracking begins in Special Protection Watersheds in Pennsylvania, gas producers receive a cover letter along with their well permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which reads in part:

“This is to inform you that the location of the well on the enclosed well permit is in a Special Protection Watershed. Special Protection Watersheds are drainage areas to streams which are classified by the Environmental Quality Board as either High Quality or Exceptional Value due to their unique characteristics or sensitive use. Special Protection Watersheds are high priority areas for the Department’s water pollution control activities.”

2008 Pennsylvania DEP Well permit Cover Letter

A Study Finding Microplastics in 100% Of Exceptional Value, High Quality, Class A Trout Streams Sampled in PA is Disturbing to Wildlife Advocates

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest Blog | October 29, 2022

On October 26, the PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center released a study finding 100 percent of the 50 water samples from Exceptional Value, High Quality, and Class A Cold Water Trout Fishing streams contained microplastics.

“Our society’s addiction to single-use plastic products is polluting our waterways and threatening our health. Pennsylvania communities should act quickly to stem the tide of plastic pollution by passing local bans and other restrictions on bags, polystyrene foam, bottles, utensils and more.”

PennEnvironment Zero Waste Advocate Faran Savitz
Below is a deja vu slideshow of four incidences of repeated fracking spills, that occurred in Special Protection watersheds — by the same company — in the same township — in less than four years!

Slideshow images above:
Repeated spills by the shale gas industry have been detrimental to ‘Special Protection’ watersheds in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Cross Creek County Park spill and fish kill in 2009:
Brush Run spill and fish kill report in 2009:
Cross Creek County Park spill response and pad remediation in 2013:
Photos of Cross Creek County Park 48-53H one month after the spill:

Back to David’s blog on microplastics:

The project took samples from the identified waterways from winter 2021 through spring 2022 and tested them for four types of microplastic pollution:
  • Fibers: primarily from clothing and textiles;
  • Fragments: primarily from harder plastics or plastic feedstock;
  • Film: primarily from bags and flexible plastic packaging;
  • Beads: primarily from facial scrubs and other cosmetic products.
The results found were troubling:
  • 100% of EV, HQ, and Class A Trout streams sampled had microfibers;
  • 84% of sites sampled had microfragments;
  • 84% of sites sampled had microfilm;
  • Only 2% of sites had microbeads.

Activists who have worked hard for decades to improve local waterways, especially the Lackawanna River, expressed dismay at the findings.

“It’s clear that the scope of plastic pollution in Pennsylvania extends far beyond what was previously thought. These are the cleanest and best protected waterways in the Commonwealth. And while many of the waterways sampled had little to no visual litter at the point of access, our samples found that Pennsylvania’s most pristine waterways continue to be contaminated with plastic pollution.”

PennEnvironment Report

The report said in order to address the environmental crisis being caused by our overreliance on plastics, our leaders at the federal, state, and local levels should immediately implement the following policies:

  • Municipalities should pass local bans and other restrictions on hard to recycle single use plastics, such as bags, polystyrene, bottles, straws, and utensils.
  • Cities should develop green infrastructure and stormwater programs to help stem the tide of plastics and microplastics being washed into our waterways and surrounding environment.
  • State legislators should defend against any proposals meant to preempt or restrict the ability of the Commonwealth’s municipalities from implementing local plastic ordinances.
  • The Pennsylvania General Assembly and United States Congress should pass bottle deposit requirements and producer responsibility laws to shift the burden of waste onto those who create the pollution in the first place.
  • The General Assembly should modernize Pennsylvania’s cornerstone recycling law, Act 101, in order to bring the Commonwealth’s waste management into the 21st century.
  • State and local legislators should oppose any proposed subsidies or other incentives that will continue to promote society’s reliance on single use plastics and double down on the fossil fuel-to plastics pipeline.
  • State and federal officials should pass policies that prevent overstock clothing from being sent to landfills so that clothing manufacturers and retailers stop producing more clothing than we could ever need.  
Click Here for a copy of the report.
Related Articles – No Protection For EV, HQ Streams:

NO SPECIAL PROTECTION: The Exceptional Value Loyalsock Creek In Lycoming County Is Dammed And DamnedVideo Dispatch From The Loyalsock – By Barb Jarmoska, Keep It Wild PA [PaEN]

Exceptional Value Water Quality Designation, State Forest Land, River Honors Were Not Enough To Protect Loyalsock Creek From Natural Gas Drilling & Pipelines In Lycoming County – By Friends Of The ‘Sock [PaEN]

— Susquehanna River Basin Commission Has No Exclusion Zones For Water Withdrawals From Any Streams, Including EV Or HQ Streams Subject To Water Quality Antidegradation Rules [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

— Senate, House Pass Massive, 20-Year Taxpayer Subsidies For Natural Gas, Hydrogen And Petrochemical Industries In Hours With No Public Accountability Or Environmental Safeguards [PaEN]

— Bill Goes To Governor Creating Well Plugging Grant Program; Senate, House Again Fail To Address Woefully Inadequate Conventional Well Plugging Bonding  [PaEN]

— Senate Committee OK’d Bills Rebranding Fossil Fuels As ‘Low Emission,’ Eliminating Incentives For EVs; Fails To End Ban On Raising Conventional Oil & Gas Well Bonding; Reports Out EHB Nominee Sarah Clark  [PaEN]

— Pine Creek Headwaters Protection Group: Potential Impacts Of Shale Gas Development Forest Fragmentation On Tioga State Forest Birds – By Dr. Robert M. Ross  [PaEN]

— DCNR Leased 176 Acres Of Susquehanna River Submerged Land To SWN Natural Gas Production Company In Susquehanna County For $704,000  [PaEN]

— Public Herald: Public Records Show PA Has 10,543 Injection Wells Where Conventional Oil & Gas Drilling Wastewater Is Often Used For Enhanced Recovery Of Oil & Gas

— Penn State Research: PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ Persist Through Wastewater Treatment, May Enter CropsBy Penn State News  [PaEN]

NewsClips:

— Scranton Times/Republican Herald Editorial: Legislators Like Plastics, Expect More  [PaEN]

— TribLive Editorial: State Fines Should Be Higher Than Tax Cuts To Penalize Environmental Leaks [PaEN]

— Republican Herald Editorial: State Lawmakers Should Adopt Rules That Preclude State Taxpayers From Subsidizing Pollution From Oil & Gas Industry  [PaEN]

— Citizens Voice Editorial: State Insists On Paying Polluters  [PaEN]

— PennLive Guest Essay: Tax Credit Bill Gifts Natural Gas, Dirty Hydrogen With $4 Billion In Taxpayer Subsidies – By Patrick McDonnell, PennFuture

[Posted: October 29, 2022]  PA Environment Digest | Source

RELATED BLOG:

October 22, 2022 – NO SPECIAL PROTECTION IN NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA

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