White Oak documentarians to show film about gas drilling, water contamination
Two White Oak documentarians will show a film about gas drilling and how it affects water supplies Saturday at 1 p.m. in the community room at the Norwin Public Library.
“It's the biggest issue facing Pennsylvania right now that is not being properly addressed and managed,” said Melissa Troutman, who with Joshua Pribanic took 18 months to put together the 90-minute “Triple Divide” documentary.
“Triple Divide” refers to the triple continental divide in Pennsylvania's northern tier, one of four in North America.
The film focuses on drilling amid watersheds in the northern tier and regulation by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Our investigations cover cradle-to-grave impacts not covered anywhere else, such as the predrill water testing problem and pressure bulb effect of fracking,” Pribanic said.
Troutman and Pribanic, respectively, are managing editor and editor-in-chief of Public Herald, a nonprofit organization dedicated to investigative journalism and the arts. It maintains the www.publicherald.org website.
In 2011 Public Herald contributors Bob and Ruth Haag wrote that the fluid used in the fracking or hydraulic fracturing process “will most likely not reach the groundwater,” but may cause a “pressure bulb” with secondary effects on drinking water wells.
“When you apply pressure to soil or rock, the pressure doesn't just stop at the surface you are pushing on,” they wrote. “The pressure spreads and dissipates through the surrounding soil or rock.”
That runs contrary to claims made in Allegheny County when drilling was allowed under Deer Lakes Park and in North Huntingdon, the North Huntingdon Environmental Stewardship Project posted on its Facebook page on April 10.
“Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said gravity would keep fracking pollutants from migrating upward to water sources,” the stewardship project said. “A gas industry official made a similar claim at the hearing before the (township commissioners).”
North Huntingdon Environmental Stewardship Project, a self-described citizen group concerned with the health and well-being of the local environment and of its neighbors in the Norwin area, is sponsoring the film in the second in a series of discussions the group plans on the impact of shale gas development in that township.
On Feb. 19 township commissioners approved 10-year leases to Huntley and Huntley Energy Exploration of Monroeville for drilling under the municipal Braddock's Trail and Oak Hollow parks.
“Triple Divide” is the first full-length film produced by Troutman and Pribanic.
Pribanic's relatives include uncles Jeffrey, Victor and Michael Pribanic, all part of White Oak's Pribanic & Pribanic law firm, which supports Public Herald's efforts.
Troutman said Pribanic's family traditionally came to Potter County at the start of trout fishing season.
“They have an appreciation of the unique hydrology of the area,” said Troutman, who formerly worked with the weekly Potter Leader-Enterprise newspaper.
“Triple Divide” has 10 chapters covering such topics as hazardous waste disposal, injection wells, drinking water contamination, split-estates and pre-drill water testing.
“The pre-drill test is the only science that private well owners have to protect themselves when drill construction is a new neighbor,” Troutman said.
Public Herald won a $35,000 Investigative News Network INNovation Fund grant funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to take the film to screenings across the country. Its work in the northern tier drew attention from national media.
“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart traveled to Bradford County for its first segment on fracking based on Public Herald's reporting there,” Troutman said. “Daily Show needed solid evidence, and we provided.”
Actor Mark Ruffalo is narrator of the film.
More details about the environmental stewardship project are available at its Facebook page, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 724-864-6189.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.
- McKeesport incident among derailments that prompt Casey to push ‘crude-by-rail’ rule
- Crowd demands answers from Steel Valley directors over playoff eligibility controversy
- Allegheny County Airport set for $4M sidewalk, parking lot upgrade
- Elizabeth Forward action to raise some school lunch prices
- Work to merge Twin Rivers, Steel Valley councils of governments drags on
- Duquesne police arrest suspect in robbery, get warrants in assault
- Public comment policy varies in Mon Valley school districts
- Duquesne City School District administrators cite student progress
- McKeesport police use stun gun in arrest of Penn Hills man on slew of charges
- Hearing delay granted in fatal McKeesport arson case
- Clairton City School District seeks savings in food service management