ShareThis Page

Drilling foes air concerns about effect on West Mifflin airport area

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 4:36 a.m.

Residents concerned about natural gas drilling at the Allegheny County Airport met on Thursday at Mifflin Elementary School in Lincoln Place to discuss the ramifications on the surrounding community.

The meeting was organized by the anti-drilling group Communities United for Rights and Environment, or CURE, in response to an agreement with Allegheny County that allows Consol Energy to extract natural gas at the West Mifflin airport and Pittsburgh International Airport in Findlay Township.

The deal reportedly is worth an estimated $500,000 to the county over a 20-year period.

Consol has indicated it likely will drill only at Pittsburgh International because of development around the West Mifflin airport, according to reports.

Still, the threat of drilling is one Ken Weir of CURE said should be taken seriously.

He said drilling at the county airport would occur within a 1 12-mile radius of the Pittsburgh City school where the meeting was held and within a 2-mile radius of Wilson Christian Academy and CCAC South campus in West Mifflin.

That's too close, in Weir's opinion, because of the theoretical dangers posed by flares and other hazards.

A host of speakers discussed many dangerous mishaps that could occur from drilling and took questions from an audience of more than two dozen.

Environmental activist Lisa Graves-Martucci of Jefferson Hills said she is concerned about blasting related to seismic gas testing that is occurring in her community and in many others in the region.

She said state permitting procedures that allow for blasting are “woefully inadequate” to ensure the safety of residents.

Martucci said she plans to present a letter to Jefferson Hills council next week calling for stronger permitting at the local level.

Anti-drilling activist Anita Barkin of Jefferson Hills said people know enough about the dangers Marcellus shale drilling poses to public health because of toxic chemicals that are used and produced as a by-product.

She said the elderly and young are most at risk from these chemicals, which they consume through food, water and air.

She said lax federal oversight of oil and gas producers allows companies to produce energy without disclosing all of the chemicals they use.

“This industry has managed to get away with a free pass,” Barkin said, but noted that concern is continuing to grow at the grass roots level. “We're seeing a real sea change in the way people are looking at this process.”

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.