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Injection well fight packs township meeting

By: Deven Clarke

HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Residents of an Elk County township are fighting a proposed, and EPA approved, Marcellus Shale waste injection well.

Residents packed the Highland Township supervisor meeting Wednesday night to express their outrage that the well could be coming to their neighborhood. They said it will be put within a mile of the James City area drinking water supply.

It was earlier this month that the federal EPA approved the drilling permit to Seneca Resources to inject waste from natural drilling operations deep into the ground. Residents said they fear the waste will leak into ground water and eventually making its way into their drinking water.

Members of the community want to know why Highland Township officials passed an ordinance and why that ordinance won't block the injection well. The ordinance was passed before EPA approved the well.

"One of the things they said is that they think it's an impermissible use of the township's police powers to protect public safety," said Chad Nicholson from the Environmental Legal Defense Fund. "And that the township can't use its police power through making law in this way."

"I am outraged that the EPA would make this reckless decision and display such blatant disregard for the citizens of our area and their quality of life," said state representative Matt Gabler in a written statement Wednesday. "I will continue to fight and do everything in my power to protect the citizens of the 75th district from irresponsible decisions like one that was made today."

Township supervisors said they plan to appeal the permit. They said it could take up to six months for the EPA to answer.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times