Residents Protest Drilling Site Near Water Treatment Plant

Marcellus Shale drilling operations in Morgantown, West Virginia--and the state's lack of public notice about the sites--have upset a number of residents. The drilling sites are near a drinking water plant and the Monongahela River. The Allegheny Front's Ilana Yergin has more.

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YERGIN: Drilling operations have resumed at two Marcellus Shale drilling sites in Morgantown. West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection had asked that operations be put on hold until the Morgantown Utility Board and Northeast Natural Energy came to an agreement on additional steps to protect the drinking water. The sites are about 1,500 feet upriver from a drinking water plant. Residents were concerned, not only by the proximity to the plant and the Monongahela River, but also because they only found out about the drilling operations when residents noticed the work beginning in the middle of May. West Virginia does not require public hearings for permitting gas wells. Sandra Fallon, who has been organizing the protest, says these drilling sites will have an impact beyond Morgantown.

FALLON: Given the fact that the Mon River flows to Pittsburgh and we are upstream of you all and as we speak there could be dozens and dozens more of these Marcellus wells permitted along the Monongahela River. We think that has implications for the river and as it flows north to Pittsburgh so this is not an isolated situation here, we feel that it does have regional impact.

YERGIN: The city council will be voting on resolutions about the drilling operations on June seventh. One would stop the work on the current drilling sites within one mile of Morgantown's water supply intake and the second would ban any drilling operations in Morgantown. A third resolution would give the city the ability to create regulations on drilling. For The Allegheny Front, I'm Ilana Yergin.