Deafening noise, excessive dust, road congestion and sleepless nights were some of the concerns raised Tuesday to Carroll Township supervisors about an EQT gas drilling operation off Van Voorhis Lane.
Ernie Koontz, who lives in the Ripepi housing plan, asked the board what action can be taken to address the noise and excess dust from the gas drilling. Koontz said the back of his house is covered in dust, including his windows, doors and garage door. The dust has also ruined his home air-conditioning compressor more than once.
“I am constantly cleaning up this muck from my garage. My son and my wife can’t sleep at night,” said Koontz. He added that since the drilling began in 2007 at the site, he has been dealing with these problems. During the first round of drilling, an abatement wall was built to offset the noise.
“I think part of the problem is that the area of drilling is above the wall and the noise is traveling over top of the wall. Another issue is in previous drilling, five compressors were used. Now, 15 or 17 compressors are being used,” he said.
Bill Lemonovich, another Ripepi plan resident, asked if supervisors considered all of the issues before drilling started in the township. “In 2005, when I moved here, I never would have envisioned what is happening. I can’t sleep; the noise is deafening. When this Marcellus Shale drilling started, did the township have any vision of our quality of life?” he asked.
Board Chairman Tom Rapp said that EQT has been very responsive to concerns raised by the township, but added that the township can’t stop the company from drilling. Rapp held up a letter from the state with information on the intent to drill at another site in the township.
He said EQT spent about $250,000 to pave the entire length of Van Voorhis Lane, not just the area being used. When the drilling is finished, the road will be paved again, Rapp said.
Lemonovich said one night the noise was so loud he called the township police, which he was instructed to do. “The officer said that the noise was very loud but, there wasn’t anything that he could do about it,” he explained.
Solicitor Herman Bigi said the township has a noise ordinance in place. “Drilling is 60 decibels and fracking is 65 decibels. Anything over those numbers, the company can be cited,” he said.
Carroll Township Police Chief Paul Brand said noise readings have been taken and were within the guidelines. He added that the noise isn’t really a police matter and complaints of noise should be made to the township.
“Now, if there is dust on the road making the road hazarous and dangerous, call us,” Brand added. “That would be a safety issue.”
Board Vice Chairman James Harrison said he has followed the trucks up the lane and heard the noise. He said that the supervisors take the concerns to the company and the company works very hard to take care of concerns.
Rapp said the company asked for a street cleaner to help combat the dust. “I don’t think it is doing much good, it isn’t cleaning it up,” he added. He told the residents that the concerns will be addressed to EQT.
Koontz said this round of drilling is expected to be finished at the end of April. But, EQT has a permit to drill five more wells at the site.
EQT spokeswoman Natalie Cox said the company is “committed to being a good neighbor in the communities where we live and work – and when landowner or residential concerns arise, we work diligently to address them.
EQT continues to evaluate the situation and address the concerns brought forth by Carroll Township residents in order to identify and implement the appropriate resolutions,” she added. “Although the growth of the natural gas industry has resulted in some temporary inconveniences to its community members, EQT is proud to be a part of shale gas development in Southwestern Pennsylvania as it creates jobs and opportunities to give back to communities, while boosting both the local and state economy.”