03 October 2019
Mounting evidence proves that natural-gas and oil extraction threatens wildlife and ecosystems — much as it harms human health.
Volunteers collected 11,300 pounds of trash from the Allegheny River and its shorelines during 16 cleanups held in June from Millvale to Freeport, according to the nonprofit Allegheny CleanWays.
Chemicals from fracking wastewater dumped into Pennsylvania's Allegheny River before 2011 are still accumulating in the bodies of freshwater mussels downstream, according to a new study.
The Seneca Nation of Indians have declared victory after a proposed project to treat fracking wastewater at the headwaters of the Allegheny River was nixed by the local water authority. EHN previously reported on the widespread opposition to the project.
Opponents of a fracking wastewater treatment plant, which is now without a home and a client, cheered Monday night as the project appeared dead.
Last month more than 100 Seneca Nation tribal members showed up at the monthly meeting of the local municipal authority in the small town of Coudersport, Pennsylvania, carrying protest signs and ceremonial drums.
Every community on the Allegheny River between New York and Pittsburgh is downstream of the proposed wastewater treatment plant. (Credit: jpellgen/flickr)<p>The Seneca Nation has other concerns, too—about how the buildup of heavy metals and radioactive materials removed through the distillation process will be stored and disposed of, and about the site being on a 100-year floodplain, to name a few. </p><p>And the Seneca Nation isn't the only group skeptical about the plan.</p><p>The DEP received more than 3,000 public comments about the project during a 30-day period. </p><p>Pittsburgh representatives of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the American Indian Law Alliance and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation all sent letters expressing concern about Epiphany's permit application.</p><p>The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers questioned Epiphany's water quality monitoring system and about the site being on a 100-year floodplain, noting that "in the event of a flood or spill resulting in the loss of the stored material into the Allegheny River, the risk to water resources is high." </p><p>The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation also urged the DEP to require more stringent water quality monitoring than was proposed in Epiphany's permit application, suggesting that even if the water was tested after leaving Epiphany, it should be re-tested for radioactive elements, heavy metals, and total dissolved solids right before entering the Allegheny River to "provide assurance to downstream communities."</p><p>The <a href="http://www.salamancapress.com/news/coudersport-borough-council-opposes-treatment-plant/article_add6ebba-2e9e-11e8-ab1f-87c97e36ae63.html" target="_blank">Coudersport Borough Council</a>, a <a href="https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/catharine-young/senator-young-joins-seneca-nation-and-others-opposing" target="_blank">Senator from New York</a>, at least <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lw48oTl9Jx_10h9_QhT4N2QUOIKIaFFd/view" target="_blank">one physician</a>, and <a href="http://www.salamancapress.com/news/salamanca-officials-support-sni-county-opposition-to-fracking-plant/article_900214e4-291b-11e8-af5f-7f5790217a6d.html" target="_blank">the government of Cattaraugus County</a>, which neighbors the Seneca Nation in New York, have stated their opposition to Epiphany's project, and a community activist group called <a href="http://www.savetheallegheny.org/" target="_blank">Save the Allegheny</a> has raised the alarm that the proposed plant is less than a mile from the local elementary school.</p><p>"When we learned about the proposal, our first concern was 'oh my god, look how close this is to the school,'" Laurie Barr, a Potter County resident and the founder of Save the Allegheny, said. </p><p>Barr points to Epiphany's failed phone charger Kickstarter as evidence that the company has a track record of poor communication and breaches of trust with stakeholders. </p><p>"If this project goes badly, Epiphany can just pack up shop and go open some other business in another name," Barr said. "Coudersport can't do that."</p><p>Joseph accused Barr and her group of intentionally spreading false information as a fear tactic.</p><p>"We've been in touch with [Save the Allegheny] from the beginning," Joseph said. "And what you have to know is that these are not good people. These are anti-fracking fanatics. They don't care about the community. They don't care about the environment."</p><p>Joseph also said the Seneca Nation is only concerned about the plant because they've received false information from members of Save the Allegheny. He said the Seneca Nation recently pushed back their scheduled meeting with Epiphany.</p><p>"They continue to make incorrect statements about Epiphany's facility and have not yet given us the opportunity to provide them with the facts and scientific data that would eliminate their concerns," he said.</p><p>Since we spoke with Joseph, a law firm representing Epiphany has sent <a href="http://publicherald.org/award-winning-filmmakers-seneca-nation-threatened-fracking-industry-defamation/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+publicherald+%28Public+Herald%29" target="_blank">cease and desist letters</a> to the Seneca Nation and a pair of investigative journalists at the Public Herald who've written about the proposed treatment plant.</p>
Add another opponent to the list of those who don't want a hydraulic fracturing wastewater treatment facility on the headwaters of the Allegheny River: the Coudersport (Pa.) Borough Council.
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