Editor’s Note: I felt this needed to be said. Op ed piece below.
Let me ask you a question: In your experience, what would happen to your neighbor – the guy who lives, say, a half-mile down the road – if he was working on his property and something exploded?
Like, a crazy-flames-shooting-into-the sky, local-first-responders-need-to-set-up-a-perimeter kind of explosion. Before you answer, let me add this query: What if the explosion sent someone to the hospital (while another disappeared during the incident)? What if it was the kind of explosion that burned for days – the kind of explosion that, the day it happened (in, say, the dead of winter) there was an air quality alert?
Think he would be taken in for questioning? Think he might get criminally charged? Have some explaining do?
For some folks in Greene County, Pennsylvania, Chevron is that neighbor down the road.
Local news reports confirm: The explosion happened early Tuesday morning. A half-mile perimeter has been established by local first responders. The fire is expected to rage for days. There will not be access to the site for days.
If past practice is any indication, our state Department of Environmental Protection will, at best, say it is “investigating.”
Just like it was investigating the various incidents of billowing black smoke and unexplained, prolonged flaring at one of the Marcellus Shale compressor station sites in Washington County, Pennsylvania. And let’s not forget about the DEP’s “investigation” into what internal emails from a water hauler in Washington County referred to as a “massive” spill that was the subject of a “cover up.”
A state official asked the DEP (and Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone’s office) to refer the case to the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
What’s happened with all that in the past couple of months? Nothing that the public is, or likely will be, privy to.
Because it seems like when it comes to environmental accountability for incidents that may impact the community, the term “it’s under investigation” is the equivalent of a junk drawer where you throw all the stuff you don’t want to deal with.
If you haven’t seen video footage online, please take a look. Like, now. The video is embedded above.
Now tell me: Would you feel safe living 500 feet away from a well? Would you feel your child was safe if she attended school within 500 feet of a well? What if your child attended school 2,500 feet away from a drill site? Safe? (If you answered no, and live in the Fort Cherry School District, for example, it’s just too bad– because the junior-senior high is 2,500 feet away from the Chiarelli well pad).
Here’s my last question: What is it gonna take for people to start getting pissed off enough by these incidents to demand accountability and transparency?
We live in a society where a petition to get Justin Bieber deported got 100,000 signatures almost overnight, but there is little righteous outrage over these kind of incidents. The people who do raise a little bit of hell? They are criticized for being radical activists.
Caring about your community, your neighbors and your natural resources – and demanding accountability from people and corporations that threaten them – is far from radical activism.
It’s being a good citizen.
And I wish I saw more of it.
Pissed off enough to make a phone call or send an email? Here’s a page of contacts to start with.