Residents pack Canton municipal building for Range hearing

August 29, 2013
This file photo shows a Marcellus Shale gas well in the area - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Residents of Canton Township peppered Range Resources representatives with a barrage of questions and concerns during a public hearing Wednesday evening on a proposed well site on Malone Ridge Road.

“I just want to go on the record and say that we have been drinking the same water for 62 years,” said Janet Henderson of her home on Lynn Portal Road, where she has lived since she was born. “I just want everybody to know that there has never been a water problem and state the fact that if we do (have one) now, I don’t want them saying it’s not their fault.”

Henderson was among the roughly 60 residents who packed the municipal building. Several made similar statements about the current quality of water wells located on their properties adjacent to the proposed well site on land owned by Michael Kopko at 419 Malone Ridge Road. The 10-acre site would house between four and six wells that would extract natural gas and gas byproducts from the rock formation below the earth through the use of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Supervisors made no motion to accept Range’s conditional-use application during Wednesday’s hearing. Rather, it was meant as a venue for residents and township officials to give testimony regarding their concerns and ask the energy company questions.

The hearing touched on a variety of issues, including road bonds, traffic, noise, emergency preparedness, nighttime lighting and air and water pollution.

Adrian Markocic, public affairs specialist for Range Resources, handled a majority of the questions during the hearing. He said although disturbances may have seemed daunting to neighbors on paper, the residents would be inconvenienced only for a short period of time.

“To say we use 1,000 trucks is kind of a disservice,” Markocic said. “Because you have to average it out over so many days.”

Although operations would often run 24 hours, seven days a week for the duration of the project, vehicle traffic and noise would be highest during the construction phase. Markocic said Range operators would work with local officials to avoid being on township roads when school buses were transporting students.

The construction phase of the project would take about a month to complete. During that time, heavy equipment would help construct a leveled pad on which a well would be placed. A two-day process of hydraulic fracturing would then occur, followed by an extended phase of continual gas extraction.

During the extraction phase, personnel and truck traffic would be considerably lower, and many of the noises that occur during construction would be eliminated.

Markocic said the site would use an above-ground pipeline from an as-yet-unnamed impoundment for the millions of gallons of water used in the hydraulic fracturing process, a move that would eliminate the need for “thousands” of truck trips. However, trucks still would be needed to haul used water off the site.

He said chemicals used in the process are public knowledge and available on the Range Resources website.

In response to questions regarding the amount of air pollution the site would cause, Markocic said Range uses some of the most advanced technology in the industry, including vapor reduction and vapor recovery units that act to cut gas emissions from the site.

“There’s a lot of false information regarding emissions,” Markocic said. Results of studies done by the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection “show that there was almost no negative impact, based on their results. In fact, there were times they were getting readings only showing the vehicles around them” and no emissions from natural gas equipment.

When asked about particular emissions from gasses such as methane and volatile organic compounds, Markocic said the facility would not be equipped to monitor air quality.

Supervisors will most likely vote to approve or deny the conditional-use application during the next Canton Township board meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12.



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