Marcellus Shale Pollution Hits Rural Counties Hardest

Bradford and Susquehanna were the dirtiest Pennsylvania counties in 2011 in terms of air pollution produced by Marcellus Shale gas production.

The Northern Tier counties ranked first and second in nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides and total shale-related emissions, according to the first-ever survey by the state Department of Environmental Protection. They ranked second and third after Washington County for emissions of volatile organic compounds.

Under federal law, Pennsylvania is required to compile an emissions inventory every three years and submit it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Marcellus Shale emissions from wells and compressor stations were added to the inventory for the first time in 2011 and will now be submitted to the state annually.

Prior to 2011, air pollution levels were dropping statewide. The decline was attributed to the increased use of natural gas instead of coal and reduced emissions from power plants and industrial sources.

But according to the latest data, Marcellus Shale operations have become a significant polluter in rural counties, where there are few other sources of air pollution. Unfortunately, accidents and injuries during Marcellus Shale gas drilling are all too common as well.

This is from the Scranton Times-Tribune:

The 2,600 tons of shale-related nitrogen oxides emitted in Bradford County in 2011 dwarfed the 235 tons of NOx pollution emitted from all other facilities in the county that year, according to DEP data. And without the 2,440 tons of shale-related NOx emissions in Susquehanna County, DEP’s facility emissions report for the county includes just one source: a compressor station on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline that emitted 17 tons of NOx in 2011.

The combined shale-related nitrogen oxide emissions in Bradford and Susquehanna counties – 5,000 tons – are nearly a third of the statewide shale-related NOx of 16,500 tons. Both together and separately, they surpass the single-largest industrial source of NOx pollution in the 11-county northeast region, GenOn Energy’s Portland Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Northampton County that emitted 2,000 tons of NOx in 2011, according to DEP facility reports.

Marcellus Shale is a massive underground rock formation that extends from Ohio and West Virginia into Pennsylvania and southern New York. It contains one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the United States—hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas.

The Marcellus Shale deposit has been known about for years. But it has only been recently that the oil and gas industry has looked to the site as a rich energy source.

Source: Scranton Times-Tribune http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/northern-tier-counties-top-state-list-of-marcellus-air-pollution-1.1444316

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Posted by Your Lawyer 2:04 pm

York County Jogger Struck By Car

A 34-year-old woman was injured and taken to the hospital after being hit by a car while jogging along a road in Conewago Township.

The incident occurred on February 15, according to reports. The jogger was struck by a teenage driver, who then swerved and smashed into a utility pole. Both the jogger and the driver suffered injuries described as non-life-threatening.

A total of 148 Pennsylvania pedestrians were killed and almost 4,500 people were injured in car-pedestrian crashes in 2012, according to the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Following is from WHTM ABC News 27:

Northern York County Regional police said the woman was struck by a 17-year-old from Dover, who swerved to avoid stopped or slowing traffic on East Canal Road, near Greenbriar Road.

The teen crashed into a utility pole after he struck the jogger, police said.

The driver and the jogger were transported to York Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Their names were not immediately released.

Most car-pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania occur when the pedestrian is:

• Entering a crossing or intersection
• Walking
• Jogging or running
• Standing still
• Working
• Pushing a vehicle
• Working on a vehicle
• Approaching or leaving a vehicle.

Pedestrians who have been injured – and the families of pedestrians who have been killed – in an accident involving a negligent or reckless driver may have a right to seek compensation to pay for their medical expenses, lost income and other losses.

Source: WHTM ABC News 27 http://www.abc27.com/story/21219709/jogger-teen-driver-injured-in-conewago-township-crash

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Posted by Your Lawyer 4:17 am

Car Runs Into House in Lancaster County

Not all car crashes in Pennsylvania involve one motor vehicle colliding with another.

Some wrecks are the result of rollovers and other single-vehicle accidents. Other times, automobiles crash into fixed objects – like a house.

A case in point happened February 16 in Lancaster County, when a passenger car smashed through the wall of a private home in East Earl Township. A resident inside was knocked from the couch where he had been sleeping. He suffered minor injuries.

The accident occurred in the early morning hours. The driver apparently fell asleep at the wheel, and police are investigating whether alcohol was a contributing factor.

There were 121,312 traffic crashes in Pennsylvania in 2010, according to reports filed with the state Department of Transportation. These wrecks claimed the lives of 1,324 people and injured another 87,949 people.

Following is from WHTM ABC 27 News:

Troy Weaver sustained a minor arm injury, according to East Earl Township police Chief Kevin McCarthy. The driver who crashed into the home told police he had fallen asleep at the wheel before he crashed into the home on the 200 block of East Main Street around 2 AM.

McCarthy said alcohol may have been a factor in the case. Charges are pending against the driver, 32-year-old Daryl Pierce of Manheim.

The Weaver family is staying with friends or family while their home is repaired. The insurance company told them repairs will take at least a week.

Pierce had to be freed from his car by Terre Hill firefighters and Lancaster County’s Rescue Task force. They also worked to stabilize the home.

A portion of East Main Street was closed this morning while police investigated the crash.

Alcohol played a role in 35 percent of all Pennsylvania traffic deaths in 2010 and contributed to almost 11 percent of all injuries, according to the state Department of Transportation.

Source: WHTM ABC 27 News http://www.abc27.com/story/21223712/car-crashes-into-home-knocks-resident-off-the-couch

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Posted by Your Lawyer 3:28 am

5 Things To Know About Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania

The maximum weekly compensation rate for injured workers in Pennsylvania has risen to $917 for 2013.

That rate – which applies to workplace injuries occurring on and after January 1, 2013 – represents an increase of 3.3 percent from 2012.

Under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act, workers who are hurt on the job are entitled to wage-loss benefits equal to two-thirds of their weekly pay. However, there are minimum and maximum limits. The exact amounts are based on the Department of Labor and Industry’s calculation of the statewide average weekly wage.

Following are 5 Things You Should Know About Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania:

1. What injuries are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act? Generally speaking, if you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you are entitled to compensation.

2. What if I had an existing medical problem that got worse because of my job? You still might be eligible for compensation. Benefits are available when a job irritates a pre-existing condition. For example, if for years you have had a bad knee because of a high school football injury, and your job makes your knee problems worse, then you might be entitled to benefits.

3. What is a work-related disease or illness? Long-term exposure to chemicals, dust, fumes, solvents and various compounds may cause a serious disease or illness – or it might irritate an existing medical or physical condition.

4. If I suffer a work injury do I have to go see the company doctor? For the first 90 days of medical care, the law requires you to select from a list of doctors chosen by your employer. There must be at least six doctors for you to choose from. Your employer cannot make the choice for you. You are free to choose your own doctor if your employer does not have a list available. And you are free to select another doctor on the list if the first choice was unsatisfactory.

5. If I’m not working and have no money, what should I do? Contact a qualified Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation attorney immediately. The consultation is free and confidential. Usually, if your attorney files a claim on your behalf, you do not have to pay anything until you win your case. Your attorney’s fee will be deducted from the benefits that you recover.

Get more information on the statewide Workers’ Compensation wage rate here.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry – Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/claims_information/10431/statewide_average_weekly_wage/552650

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Posted by Your Lawyer 7:24 pm

York County Jogger Struck By Car

A 34-year-old woman was injured and taken to the hospital after being hit by a car while jogging along a road in Conewago Township.

The incident occurred on February 15, according to reports. The jogger was struck by a teenage driver, who then swerved and smashed into a utility pole. Both the jogger and the driver suffered injuries described as non-life-threatening.

A total of 148 Pennsylvania pedestrians were killed and almost 4,500 people were injured in car-pedestrian crashes in 2012, according to the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

Following is from WHTM ABC News 27:

Northern York County Regional police said the woman was struck by a 17-year-old from Dover, who swerved to avoid stopped or slowing traffic on East Canal Road, near Greenbriar Road.

The teen crashed into a utility pole after he struck the jogger, police said.

The driver and the jogger were transported to York Hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Their names were not immediately released.

Most car-pedestrian accidents in Pennsylvania occur when the pedestrian is:

• Entering a crossing or intersection
• Walking
• Jogging or running
• Standing still
• Working
• Pushing a vehicle
• Working on a vehicle
• Approaching or leaving a vehicle.

Pedestrians who have been injured – and the families of pedestrians who have been killed – in an accident involving a negligent or reckless driver may have a right to seek compensation to pay for their medical expenses, lost income and other losses.

Source: WHTM ABC News 27 http://www.abc27.com/story/21219709/jogger-teen-driver-injured-in-conewago-township-crash

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Posted by Your Lawyer 4:14 am

Red Light Cameras Reduce Intersection Wrecks

Placing video cameras on stoplights cuts down on drivers running red lights by more than 80 percent, new research suggests. The result: fewer intersection crashes and auto accident deaths.

Those are the key findings from a just-released traffic safety study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

“This study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior,” said Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS and the study’s lead author, in a news release.

Approximately 540 towns and cities nationwide have red light cameras. A growing string of studies have shown that the devices curb automobile accidents and improve road safety.

The most recent study involved filming traffic flow at four heavily-traveled intersections in Arlington, Virginia. One camera was installed at each intersection.

Motorists were given a 30-day warning period before enforcement began. Afterward, the county began issuing citations carrying $50 fines for violations caught on camera.

Following is from the IIHS news release:

To calculate how the cameras affected violation rates, researchers at the Institute, which is located in Arlington, videotaped traffic during the warning period, a month after ticketing began and again after a year. In addition to the four camera-enforced intersections, videotaping was done at four other intersections in Arlington — two on the same corridors where cameras were located and two elsewhere — to see if there was any spillover effect from the cameras.

Four control intersections in neighboring Fairfax County, which does not have a camera program, also were observed.
One year after the start of ticketing, the odds of a red light running violation at the camera locations went down. Violations occurring at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red were 39 percent less likely than would have been expected without cameras. Violations occurring at least 1 second after were 48 percent less likely, and the odds of a violation occurring at least 1.5 seconds into the red phase fell 86 percent.

A 2011 IIHS study of large cities with longstanding red light cameras found that cameras reduced the fatal red light running crash rate by 24 percent and the rate of all types of fatal crashes at signalized intersections by 17 percent.

Close to 10,000 Americans died in 2003 after being involved in intersection-related accidents. One third of all traffic accidents take place at intersections, with almost 3 million intersection-related accidents occurring annually.

Risk factors at intersections include speeding up to make a green light, failure to yield the right of way, improper lane changes and sudden braking.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr012413.html

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Posted by Your Lawyer 3:54 am

Calvary Charter Bus Crash Under Investigation

Authorities are continuing to investigate a tragic February 2 charter bus crash that injured more than 30 Pennsylvania high school students and chaperones.

The accident happened when a Calvary Coach bus slammed into a bridge overpass in Boston. The 35 occupants were returning home to the Philadelphia area after a visit to Harvard University.

Investigators – including a collision reconstruction team – are conducting a thorough examination of the vehicle that could take up to six weeks to complete.

The top of the bus struck the bottom of a low bridge. The collision sheared off a portion of the roof, causing injury to passengers. At least four were hospitalized for serious personal injuries.

Following is from the Boston Globe:

State Police said Sunday that the crash injured 35 passengers, many of whom were sent to local hospitals where they were treated and released. Four passengers were in serious condition, authorities said Saturday night, one with life-threatening injuries….

Raymond Talmadge, owner of Philadelphia-based Calvary Coach, told a television station that [the driver] may have been checking his GPS at the time of the crash.

“He said he looked at the GPS, looked down to make the turn, and when he looked back up, the bridge was a low bridge; he hit the low bridge,” Talmadge told ABC-6 TV in Philadelphia.

A number of passengers were taken to Boston-area hospitals for treatment; at least four of them received treatment for injuries described as serious. One student underwent spinal surgery and was listed in critical condition.

Unofficial reports indicate that the driver may have missed a sign that prohibits buses from traveling on the roadway due to the height of the bridge.

Signs warning off buses and trucks were visible the morning after the accident, and a yellow sign stating the 10-foot clearance height of the bridge could been seen on the underpass entrance traveling east, the direction in which the bus was headed.

The trip was organized by Destined for a Dream Foundation, a Pennsylvania nonprofit group that provides educational programs for underprivileged students.

Source: Boston Globe: http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/02/03/soldiers-field-road-reopened/dgMGHbi0PRVlx00NtBLSDP/story.html

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Posted by Your Lawyer 4:29 am

UGI Fined $500,000 For Allentown Gas Tragedy

Pennsylvania regulators have fined the state’s largest gas utility $500,000 for a 2011 Allentown explosion that killed five people.

In so doing, the state Public Utility Commission blasted UGI for its “patently unacceptable” safety history.

“This is the eighth time in slightly more than four years that this commission has adjudicated a matter containing allegations of gas safety violations by a UGI-owned gas distribution utility,” the PUC said in a written statement announcing the settlement. “This goes beyond cause for concern; it is downright alarming.”

The boom in oil and gas exploration in Pennsylvania has exposed property owners, businesses and workers to a risk of property damage, personal injury and even death.

The February 2011 explosion in Allentown destroyed houses and ignited a raging fire. The cause was traced to a crack in a UGI cast-iron gas main. The gas was found to lack sufficient odorant to make the leak noticeable.

The PUC originally fined UGI $386,000, which was the maximum allowed at the time.

In addition to hiking the penalty to half a million dollars, the PUC on January 24 ordered the gas company to:

  • Develop a pilot program for detecting gas leaks
  • Replace all cast iron natural gas pipelines over a 14-year period and bare steel over a 30-year period
  • Install fixed odorant level monitoring equipment at certain pipeline locations
  • Take other steps to reduce the risk of gas accidents in Pennsylvania.

Sources:

  • Philadelphia Inquirer http://articles.philly.com/2013-01-26/business/36550308_1_ugi-utilities-valley-forge-energy-ugi-corp
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Posted by Your Lawyer 4:40 am

PA Pledges $20 Million Intellectual Disabilities

The Pennsylvania state budget for 2013-14 will include nearly $20 million to help approximately 1,200 adults with intellectual disabilities.

The goal is to shrink the waiting list for home- and community-based services that are needed by these individuals. Among the covered conditions: Down syndrome, autism and learning disabilities.

In announcing the budget set-aside, Governor Tom Corbett said, “We need to do a better job of looking after these citizens, who, through no failing of their own, cannot look after themselves.”

People in Pennsylvania with disabilities might be eligible for state or federal financial assistance.

Social Security Disability benefits are available to individuals who have earned wages and paid into the Social Security system in at least 20 of the last 40 quarters. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, a person must be totally disabled – meaning incapable of performing any job due to the disability.

Here is more from the governor’s press announcement:

Intellectual disabilities – such as Down syndrome, autism or Fragile X syndrome – originate before the age of 18 and provide significant limitations in intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, affecting many everyday social and practical skills.

The 2013-14 proposal aims to provide for people waiting for services, including adults from the emergency waiting list, those waiting to receive autism services, and special education graduates.

Many of the individuals with intellectual disabilities “age out” of receiving special education services when graduating high school or live at home with an elderly caregiver or single parent that must split time between full-time employment and caregiving duties….

“Caregivers should not have to choose between caring for a loved one and full-time employment, nor should individuals with special needs have to suffer set-backs in their everyday lives,” [Governor Corbett] added.

The state Department of Public Welfare has an emergency waiting list of more than 3,500 individuals who have been identified as needing services within the next six months.

In February, the state will provide more details on financial assistance for the intellectually disabled.

Source: Pennsylvania Governor’s Office http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=1072223&parentname=ObjMgr&parentid=396&mode=2

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Posted by Your Lawyer 3:22 am

State Says Gas Pipelines Should Follow Highways

Natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania should run along existing highway rights of way, a new state energy report has recommended.

Another recommendation: The gas lines should be placed near industrial areas to make it easier to develop the Marcellus Shale reserves.

In Pennsylvania, 2,500 Marcellus Shale drilling permits were issued from 2007 to 2009. The state Department of Environmental Protection estimates another 5,000 permits will be issued in 2010.

Following is from the Scranton Times Tribune:

The state Public Utility Commission should create a statewide map of Marcellus natural gas pipelines and more effort should be made to involve local officials in the planning of pipeline projects, the report states.

These are among recommendations for changes to state laws and policies in the report submitted recently by state Energy Executive Patrick Henderson to meet a requirement under the natural gas drilling impact fee law.

The report provides a picture of the extent of gathering pipelines in Pennsylvania. As of last October pipeline operators reported a total of more than 2,500 miles of pipelines. Bradford and Susquehanna counties rank among the top 10 counties in having pipeline mileage. The pipeline totals for the two counties are 244 miles and 160 miles, respectively.

The report lists 18 transmission pipeline projects underway in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters plans to call attention to pipeline safety issues with a press conference….

There are 18 natural gas transmission pipeline projects underway in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

Each project involves the construction of a well pad and the drilling of a well bore to depths of 6,000 feet or more. The majority of wells in the Marcellus Shale will be hydraulically fractured – or “fracked.” A single well can use from 1 million to 5 million gallons of water.

There have been reports of personal injury and private property damage as the result of Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania.

Source: The Scranton Times Tribune http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/gas-drilling/report-recommends-gas-pipeline-placement-steps-1.1432826

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Posted by Your Lawyer 4:03 am

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