Drilling, Dredging and New York’s Water

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Two issues pertaining to water in New York are coming to a head. Riverkeeper president Alex Matthiessen, discusses natural gas drilling in the watershed and the cleanup of PCB's in the Hudson River. ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten has been covering the drilling issue and his latest report is on radioactivity in the wastewater. Then journalist David Gargill writes about the dredging operation in an article called "The General Electric Superfraud" in the December issue of Harper’s Magazine.


David Gargill, Abrahm Lustgarten and Alex Matthiessen

Comments [16]

MrJosephSchmoe from NEPA

I have no doubt that the private property owners in the NYC watersheds and the upper Delaware River Basin would be willing to sell their natural gas and their development rights to NYC. This should put the issue to rest in these areas and compensate for the lost opportunities that would otherwise provide a important industry for an economically depressed area.

Nov. 12 2009 11:46 AM
Jane Cyphers from Brooklyn NY/Milanville Pa

Farmers in southwest Pennsylvania blame cattle deaths and mutations on local fracking. Here’s a quote from a testimony to consider by Angel and Wayne Smith, Clearville Pa., “……. My husband and I became ill. My blood count went crazy. My husband swelled up. He had his gall bladder removed, but it didn’t help. We lost a horse in January of 2007. She went down and she could not get up. ……Then in April we had another cow go down. She just kicked her feet and would not get up. She died a short time after. We did not even have time to call a vet. Then the same week we had a cow stagger. We called the vet. He came out and gave her bottles of fluid and pills. We asked, “What are you doctoring her for?' he said, “I don't know... we have to start somewhere..” 10days or so after, she came crashing through the fence, kicked her feet, and by the time we got the needle started she was dead. We started losing calves, some were born dead, some lived a few months old, slowly dying, some were born with no hair. We lost our 3 dogs, one wasted away. Another acted like she couldn't breath and the other, kidney failure. We lost our chickens. They would just drop over and die. We believe all of this illness was a result of fracing fluids contaminating our water well. “ Many local residents have been deterred from fighting the gas companies by the expense of legal action and water testing. Many people don’t have the kind of money necessary to get a complete test for all the chemicals that the gas industry is allowed to use (over 260). There’s another problem. The levels designated as “acceptable” by the protection agencies are very high. The EPA was gutted during the last administration and their powers were greatly weakened. Most studies on these contaminates and their mixtures are outdated or not available. Chemical reactions resulting from mixing fracing chemicals and NORMS were not even studied.

Nov. 12 2009 05:41 AM
Naomi Teppich from NYC and Damascus, PA

I feel that the federal government should affect the states' rights in determining the use of hydrofracking for gas. If one state or city deems it unhealthy to use this method to extract natural gas, then it should be monitored in other states equally and as well. I recognize that PA has different needs and economic issues, but the health of its citizens should be monitored by the same standards as New York State which should be set by the federal government.There are many other places out West whose health issues have already been overlooked due to lack of political pressure.

Nov. 10 2009 09:48 PM
cottageworks from Upper Delaware Basin

What have been the health impacts of radioactive waste water on worker drill workers? Where are the workers who were told the levels were safe? Who kept the DEC report of radioactive waste water quiet? Who subordinated the truth and who should be liable for radioactive injuries to workers, residents and all the flora & fauna?

Nov. 10 2009 02:12 PM
Alice from Park Slope and NE Pennsylvania

The drilling issue is complicated because the communities where drilling will happen are depressed. Landowners are seduced by dolloars, and blinded by their willingness to believe the lies of gas companies. The only way to protect our air and water from radiation, benzene (a leukemia-causing carcinogen used in the fracking fluid and recently found at levels 44 times that allowable) is for state and federal governments to mandate restrictions, and regulations -- plus provide the funds for adequate monitoring. Pressure the DEC at this evening's public hearing at Stuyvesant High School, and pressure your Congressmen to co-sponsor the FRAC ACT now being reviewed by both houses of Congress. This act rescinds the 2005 exemptions for the oil and gas industry to ALL federal environmental regulations, as well as forces gas companies to declare the recipe of chemicals used in fracking.

Nov. 10 2009 01:48 PM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

"bridge fuels" is an excuse enviros use to delay demanding the right thing be done now.

NYS needs to prove this will cause zero negative impact on our water and lives; otherwise, it's a no-go.

get to the DEC hearing tonight to defend your water, new york! go to for details about how to get your voice heard!

Nov. 10 2009 12:11 PM
Mike from Inwood

Susan from Kingston asks "Calls'em As I Sees'em" from McLean, VA: "The last administration didn't hold GE accountable either, so what's your point?"

The poster from McLean, VA, reflexively relates every issue to the failure of the Obama administration and routinely posts these insights. That's just how [s]he sees 'em.

Nov. 10 2009 12:01 PM
Susan from Kingston

Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA The last administration didn't hold GE accountable either, so what's your point?

Nov. 10 2009 11:46 AM
John Celardo from Fanwood, NJ

GE has left such a vast trail of pollution, it’s surprising how the company has escaped from prosecution. My wife is from Pittsfield, MA where GE dumped PCB impregnated fill all over town. A lake near the old power transformer plant is so polluted, the city built a high fence to keep people away from the lake.

Nov. 10 2009 11:45 AM
Calls'em As I Sees'em from McLean, VA

GE will never be held accountable for this by this administration admin in Washington.

They are one of if not the biggest receiptient of US government contracts, something they seemed to have earned by becoming Obama's and the Democrat Party's propaganda mouthpiece on its' NBC and MSBC fake news shows.

Nov. 10 2009 11:41 AM
Tom from NJ from Highland Park, NJ

Natural gas is often touted as an improvement over other fossil fuels with respect to greenhouse gas emissions, but fugitive emissions of methane -- which are likely to be even bigger with shale gas drilling but remain so far unstudied -- can quickly erase any greenhouse gains.

See, e.g.,

Nov. 10 2009 11:37 AM
Ken from Manhattan

What of concerns raised in Texas (covered by NPR) concerning the noise and air pollution caused in the processing of the natural gas?
"Vast new natural gas fields have opened up thanks to an advanced drilling technique. While natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or petroleum, extracting it is still hard, dirty work. Some people who live near the massive Barnett Shale gas deposit in north Texas, have complaints. Health and environmental concerns are prompting state regulators to take a closer look."

Nov. 10 2009 11:35 AM
Mike from Inwood

An article in the NY Times a week or two ago quoted the CEO of the company that owns the drilling leases around New York City's water supply as saying that his company would not exercise its right to drill around the water shed because the liability was too large.

There are problems with hydro-fracking. See the documentary "Split Estate" for more information or google the movie title and listen toAmy Goodman of 'Democracy Now' interview the film maker and listen to portions of the movie.

Nov. 10 2009 11:31 AM

Bloomberg said it it's unsafe he wil stop it which is the ONLY reason I voted for him - he can stop it, and judging by his interest in public health, I believe him. But we should keep this story in the news and keep pestering.

Nov. 10 2009 11:31 AM
kai from NJ-NYC

Kudos to both for their work.

Lustgarten has done a great service in his reporting about hydrofracking upstate (and all over the Marcellus Shale).

Read his work as well as this piece on the upstate drilling and the ensuing hearing in NYC tonight:

Nov. 10 2009 11:28 AM

How does this effect Northeast PA which has the same exact issues but a different state regulatory system? Are PA authorities watching this and reacting, do you know?

Nov. 10 2009 11:08 AM

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