Survey Of Washington, Greene Elected Officials Shows Positive Views Of Gas Industry

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A survey of elected leaders in Washington and Greene counties found generally positive experiences with the gas exploration industry that has changed the face of their communities.

“They’re starting to see a lot of vitality. There’s physical activity in the communities and new wealth among some property owners. New employees. That’s all very positive,” said Diana Stares, the director of the Center of Energy Policy and Management at Washington & Jefferson College, who oversaw the survey. “Now they’re anxious to draw from that development some long-term results. And some don’t know how to go about that.”

Interactions between drilling companies and local officials are improving as both sides get to know each other, and as money and jobs flow into the region, several people said.

“It was a growing experience, I think, by some of these companies coming in here,” said Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi, a Democrat. “But they saw that if you treat people fairly, they’ll respond in a positive way.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/6383333-74/industry-officials-percent#ixzz36tbYQPSg
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Hazelwood Neighbors Await Bankruptcy Result As Trash Resters At Recycler

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mounds of garbage left behind when a Hazelwood recycling center went bankrupt in January are providing a place for rats to breed and causing a public health hazard, residents and government officials said on Thursday.

Residents say debris at Pittsburgh Recycling Services Inc. along railroad tracks at Vespucius and Dyke streets reeks of decay.

“Since they closed up, I’ve had a major problem with rodent infestation,” said Stanley Benovitch, 71, whose backyard faces the site. “I have two little dogs, and one of them’s a hunter. She’s killed three rats right here in the backyard.”

On Thursday, Benovitch found a fourth that his dog Trixie killed.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/6042366-74/recycling-pittsburgh-hazelwood#ixzz30ZwF4tl5
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Pennsylvania Gas Well Blaze Extinguishes Itself

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Greene County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Greene County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fire that burned for four days at a gas well in rural Greene County went out by itself, but officials said on Sunday they will approach the site very cautiously to stop the gas leaking from two damaged well heads.

For reasons that were still unclear, the methane gas that was pouring from one of the three wells on the pad decreased in volume and the fire extinguished itself about 3 p.m. Saturday, said Bill Zempolich, manager for asset development out of the Moon office of Chevron, which owns the well in Dunkard.

The fire had been going out intermittently, but the gas kept hitting a superheated crane left on the pad and reigniting. Crews at the site used a laser Saturday to determine the crane cooled and shouldn’t re-ignite the gas, said Scott Perry, deputy secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas Management.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/news/1199417/Pa.-gas-well-blaze-extinguishes-itself

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Pennsylvania Climate Plan, Recommendations Released

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania’s climate action plan arrived just in time for Christmas, but it’s already a year late.

The draft document — an update of a 2009 plan to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in the state — comes out of the Department of Environmental Protection. It’s based on workplans recommended by a 15-person committee representing industry, government and nonprofits.

The legislation that required this report said the update should have been issued at the end of 2012.

The latest climate action plan proposes expanding natural gas distribution pipelines to give more Pennsylvanians access to the fuel. It also advocates encouraging operators of coal mines to capture some of the methane vented into the air before, during, or after mining activity.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/news/environment/2013/12/20/State-climate-plan-recommendations-released/stories/201312200062#ixzz2o2UTDBS7

Air Quality Alerts Issued Across Broad Swath Of Pennsylvania

Stagnant weather patterns in recent days have caused high air pollution levels in the southwest corner of Pennsylvania and nearly all of the eastern half of the state, prompting health concerns and the issuance of air quality alerts that more commonly occur in the summer.

The state Department of Environmental Protection has declared Air Quality Action Day alerts due to high concentrations of airborne particles over a broad swath of the eastern half of Pennsylvania this week, and predicted lesser but still elevated air pollution levels for Pittsburgh and the southwestern corner of the state.

Eric Shirk, a DEP spokesman, said the high pollution readings have been caused by a stationary front that has controlled the state’s weather for most of the week.

“The winter tends to have much more wind, which prevents the stagnation of the often damp air,” he said. “When there is less or no wind, as has been the case in the past several days, it allows the moisture and particulate matter to build to a level that warrants an Air Quality Action Day.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/region/2013/12/05/Air-quality-alerts-issued-across-broad-swath-of-Pa/stories/201312050220#ixzz2md5redaD

Centralia Residents Free To Stay After Settling Suit Against State

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Columbia County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Columbia County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All they ever wanted was to be left alone, free to live out their lives in the central Pennsylvania coal town whose population had fled an underground mine fire.

After 20 years, the residents of Centralia have finally gotten their wish.

A lengthy battle over eminent domain culminated this week when eight residents settled their lawsuit against state officials who had been trying to evict them from their condemned homes – the only homes left standing after most of this Columbia County town was razed in the 1980s due to a still-burning coal-mine fire.

The settlement, notice of which was filed in U.S. District Court, allows the residents to stay in their homes for as long as they live. It also includes a cash payout of $349,500.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=517872

State To Undertake $500,000 Cleanup Of Pottstown Plating

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County

Location of Pottstown in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  This is great news!

POTTSTOWN — The state is stepping in to make sure a half-million-dollar environmental cleanup at a closed plating facility in the borough gets completed after the bankrupt owner stopped work.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced Wednesday it would take over the removal of hazardous materials left over at the former Pottstown Plating on South Washington Street at the intersection with Industrial Highway.

The company, which performed electroplating, opened in 1950 and closed in 2009 just before going bankrupt, according to the DEP.

When the DEP inspected the site in 2009, it found a number of environmental issues that needed to be addressed and the company’s owners hied a contractor to removed hazardous waste there.

Read more: http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20130918/state-to-undertake-500000-cleanup-of-pottstown-plating

A Legend Will Fall: Wilkes-Barre’s Sterling Hotel End Nears

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kurt Sauer will get a long-awaited birthday present next Thursday: The demolition of the Hotel Sterling.

Since Wilkes-Barre officials decided in January to bring the building down without the help of Luzerne County, the city had to start the process from scratch.  That meant Sauer, the city’s director of community development, had to fill out reams of paperwork – he points to a 4-inch binder chock-full of various documents – as he worked to get approval from various state and federal agencies.

So when Brdaric Excavating finally begins work Thursday, Sauer will be a year older and a step closer to finishing the job.  And the current chapter of the Sterling’s life, one filled with hopes of restoration and disappointing and expensive failures to save the historic building, will near a close.

John Brdaric, owner of Brdaric Excavating, didn’t respond to requests for an interview about the $419,000 demolition.  But Sauer and Butch Frati, Wilkes-Barre’s director of operations, explained how they believe the process will unfold.

Read more:  http://citizensvoice.com/news/a-legend-will-fall-sterling-s-end-nears-1.1523678

Wilkes-Barre Gets Final Funding Needed To Raze Dilapidated Hotel Sterling By Early Summer

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre

English: Hotel Sterling, Wilkes-Barre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Demolition of the historic Hotel Sterling, once a grand city landmark that has fallen into disrepair and become a dangerous eyesore, should begin by late June to mid-July, the city has announced.

The city on Monday received an official release of about $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that is the final piece of funding needed to cover demolition.  The city will advertise for demolition bids this week, city Municipal Affairs Manager Drew McLaughlin said.

The funding is a portion of the city’s annual Community Development Block Grant allocation from HUD for removal of blighted properties.

“We are nearing the final stages of this demolition,” Mayor Tom Leighton said in a prepared statement.  “This has been a top priority since the flooding of 2011.  We all look forward to the day when the public safety threat has been addressed and the detour in downtown Wilkes-Barre is lifted.”

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/511398/Sterling-demo-date-edges-closer

Berks County Takes No Delight In Exide Workers’ Plight

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United Stat...

Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In two years, the Berks County commissioners have positioned themselves squarely against Exide Technologies lead smelting plant in Laureldale.

But a day after Exide announced plans to idle the plant and lay off 150 employees by March 31, the commissioners said Friday that they were not celebrating the news.

“We take no joy in the loss of jobs in Berks County,” Commissioner Mark C. Scott said, “but I don’t think we’re willing to trade public health for jobs.”

In the past two years, the county has appealed two separate permits issued to Exide.  According to the commissioners, the permits fell short of what is needed to comply with national air standards and do not require the company to continue operating a network of air monitors around the plant.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=426525

Underground Centralia Fire Still Burning After 50 Years

Higher resolution photograph of the Route 61 c...

Higher resolution photograph of the Route 61 crack, in Centralia PA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CENTRALIA, Pa.  – Fifty years ago on Sunday, a fire at the town dump ignited an exposed coal seam, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to the demolition of nearly every building in Centralia – a whole community of 1,400 simply gone.

All these decades later, the Centralia fire still burns in Columbia County. It also maintains its grip on the popular imagination, drawing visitors from around the world who gawk at twisted, buckled Route 61, at the sulfurous steam rising intermittently from ground that’s warm to the touch, at the empty, lonely streets where nature has reclaimed what coal-industry money once built.

It’s a macabre story that has long provided fodder for books, movies and plays – the latest one debuting in March at a theater in New York.

Yet to the handful of residents who still occupy Centralia, who keep their houses tidy and their lawns mowed, this borough in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania is no sideshow attraction. It’s home, and they’d like to keep it that way.

Read more: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=389185