The construction and use of the proposed gas pipeline to Shamokin Dam from the Marcellus Shale region to the north of our state presents a huge threat to the health of all valley residents. However, gas company UGI are conspiring to downplay the risks – refusing to publicly accept that there is even a problem! At a recent public meeting one UGI official – Mr. Bernie Holcumb, turned the truth on its head by deceptively denying that there was any radon in the gas from the Marcellus Shale beds!
The company which was recently fined by the Public Utility Commission the maximum amount of $500,000 following a 2011 Allentown explosion which killed 5 people, had their safety record at the same hearing described as “downright alarming”.
UGI – Safety record “downright alarming”!
However, they are taking no such chances with the Sunbury Pipeline. They have set up a separate company – UGI Sunbury LLC – to front the construction and operation of the pipeline and to insulate themselves from the prospect of any future liability. In the event of a catastrophe the parent company can simply wash its hands of it all and walk away, leaving their subsidiary to pay what it can towards any plaintiffs out of their limited resources. Do they even have adequate levels of insurance to cover potential damages to landowners and their property, or are they just minimally bonded? We just don’t know as they have stonewalled any questions concerning this issue.
Winston Churchill once disparaged US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles as being the only bull who carried his own china shop around with him. Obviously Mr. Churchill had not come across our very own Sunbury Councilman Jim Eister.
Councilman Jim Eister
The Daily Item Saturday headlined Mr. Eister’s claim that it is the City who are dumping dirt on the Celotex site! This audacious but ludicrous statement blatantly flies in the face of all available evidence. According to Eister the source of the material is the new Municipal Authority transfer station being built between the existing establishment and the railroad tracks, at the end of South 4th St. Where his argument falls apart is that there are no excavations taking place on this site – it is being leveled and all the top soil and other dirt can be clearly seen piled up to one side.
This week we received disturbing news from concerned Caketown residents that dumping had resumed at the former Celotex site in Sunbury. Sure enough, on Thursday 29th May there was clear evidence in the form of several hundred tons of fill which had been dumped but not yet leveled, to add to the thousands of tons dumped previously. By Saturday, this fill had been leveled off, but a further 100 tons or so had been dumped and was waiting to be similarly treated.
Now You See It – 29th May 2014
Now You Don’t – 31st May 2014
If Moran Industries, or whichever of their subsidiaries is now operating this site, has nothing to hide, why is this stuff always arriving so clandestinely in the dead of night? Apparently they are now using the Front Street access gate, which means that local residents are not so aware of what is going on there.
If this fill is clean fill as they have always claimed, why is it even being dumped here? What would be the point, commercially or otherwise? However, if it is contaminated, toxic, potentially carcinogenic or radioactive, then where better to put it than on a site with no inspection, no access restrictions, no reporting requirements, no radiation detectors and a city code administration under the control of a compliant mayor with no apparent motivation to intervene?
On Tuesday evening, Mayor David L. Persing had a wonderful opportunity to start the healing process for his deeply divided city. He had the chance to be magnanimous in victory, to hold out an olive branch to his opponents and to chart a new way ahead for the city which would be acceptable to a vast majority of its citizens.
Instead he went into attack mode with a bellicose and threatening speech, more reminiscent of Nazi Germany than the Land of the Free, a speech which has spawned a YouTube video entitled “Defiant Mayor with only 60% of vote calls opposition, evil, garbage, makes threats”.
Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor of Natural Philosophy, Bloomsburg University
Frackers – Why Sunbury?
Professor Wendy Lee
The gas fracking industry invariably looks for poor neighborhoods within which to locate its operations. This way they reckon the people will be easier to subdue and overcome as they are unable to generate an effective resistance to the plans. This is exactly what happened up at Riverdale in Lycoming Country with the water pumping station, when they wanted to dispossess a community living in mobile homes in an economically marginal neighborhood in order to set up operations there.
It is the same story with Moran Industries and Clean Harbors when they wanted to use the old Celotex Site in order to construct a frack waste processing plant. It is not currently proceeding, but it is certainly conceivable that they could come back if they can obtain the DEP permit that they were not able to obtain originally.
Mayor Persing has to know that they targeted that location because Sunbury, despite him having been mayor for most of the time since 1990, despite the fact that he claims to have done a ton for Sunbury, the Celotex site remains utterly blighted and is targeted by companies such as Clean Harbors precisely because it is an easy target and has rail transport.