November 21, 2017

EPA creates tipline for reports of suspicious gas drilling activities

Laura Legere, Scranton Times-Tribune

The Philadelphia office of the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a toll-free tipline on Tuesday for citizens to report “unusual or suspicious” activity related to natural gas drilling.

In particular, the federal environmental oversight agency is encouraging citizens to call the non-emergency line if they see what appears to be illegal dumping of wastes, according to a press release about the tipline.

EPA spokesman David Sternberg said the agency has “definitely received reports of improper disposal of drilling wastes,” but he said he could not talk about the specifics of those reports.

The EPA developed the tipline in response to public concerns about the environmental impacts of well drilling and pipeline construction, especially those related to Marcellus Shale exploration, Mr. Sternberg said.

Although the EPA does not regulate most aspects of natural gas drilling – that authority is delegated to the states – the agency is “very concerned about the potential for irresponsible activities that could be impacting human health and the environment, such as contaminating drinking water or impairing surface water,” he said.

The information gathered from the tipline may be shared with the state agencies that regulate drilling – in Pennsylvania, it is the Department of Environmental Protection – and may be used by the EPA in investigating the practices of the industry, he said.

“We want to get a better understanding of what people are experiencing and observing as a result of these drilling activities.”

Reports can be made to 877-919-4EPA or eyesondrilling@epa.gov and may be submitted anonymously. If possible, reports should include the location, time and date of the suspicious activity, as well as the materials, equipment and vehicles involved and any observable environmental impacts.

Citizens can also call the tipline with questions or concerns about drilling, Mr. Sternberg said.

Tip mailing address:
EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street (3CEOO)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029