Thought Piece

The silence emanating from the Coalition for the Delaware River Basin (CDRB) after this current train wreck is deafening. This sound of silence is especially interesting as the CDRB has been worried about pipelines polluting the Delaware River Basin in all their DRBC filings arguing against shale oil development and natural gas pipelines in Wayne County.

One can be certain that if a pipeline or shale well had polluted the Delaware River Basin or anywhere near it, the CDRB would have howled to the media world that the sky is falling. It is interesting to note that media posting on the CDRB Web Site today read: “Joining Together in the Delaware River Watershed: The Winner of the Delaware River means ‘togetherness’ Contest,” written by Rita Yelda.

Below, Tom Shepstone has been writing brilliantly about the slow- motion legal and political issues centered around allowing fracking in Wayne County. Interestingly, Wayne County is located next door Susquehanna County, who have been safely fracking the last decade in the same topography as Wayne.

It is worth mentioning that Susquehanna County has been thriving from within, while Wayne County is sitting on a large cache of shale oil, but without economic benefits. Has Wayne County become a province of New York?

The DRBC Has A Train Wreck As New Jersey Pollutes the Delaware

The DRBC justification for a fracking ban just derailed with a train wreck that dumped New Jersey’s waste, on the way to New York, into the Delaware River.

The DRBC’s juvenile justification for its proposed framework ban is essentially “My God, there could be an accident” or something like that. There was a railroad accident yesterday and it dumped fuel oil and waste from New Jersey into the West Branch of the Delaware River. It had zero to do with fracking, proving what a train wreck the DRBC fracking ban really is.

I wrote about the DRBC’s justification for their power grab here and later here. Also, here’s what the DRBC says in their justification for their proposed ban (emphasis added):

Based upon EPA’s analysis, the combination of activities and factors more likely than others to result in more frequent or more severe impacts to water resources are spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources. In May 2015, an EPA study compiled data on and characterized 457 hydraulic fracturing related spills that occurred between January 2006 and April 2012 in eleven states. The study attributed these to equipment failure, human error, failure of container integrity, and other causes, including but not limited to well communication, weather and vandalism. Storage, equipment, well or wellhead, hose or line, and “unknown” were among the identified sources. Spills can affect both surface and groundwater resources, both locally and regionally, within the host state and in adjoining states. Pollution from spills and from hydraulic fracturing has occurred in parts of Pennsylvania outside the basin where high volume hydraulic fracturing is occurring.

As I noted in one of the first linked posts, the “DRBC is saying potential spills caused by accidents, weather or vandalism, for example, are an excuse to ban a completely lawful activity.” I also offered this:

Indeed, it says spills are the primary problem, although the Susquehanna River Basin Commission data…shows “no discernible impact on the quality of water resources from natural gas development.” Therefore, if spills are the cause, what is the problem? Where is the evidence? More importantly, what couldn’t the DRBC ban with this completely fraudulent excuse?

That’s the log on the tracks that derails the rationale for the DRBC fracking ban. It came into clear view as the train rounded the bend above Hancock, New York yesterday. The location was across the West Branch of the Delaware River from Pennsylvania but it’s activities in two other pro-ban states that created the circumstances for the accident.

Here are some of the details courtesy of the Binghamton PressConnects (emphasis added):

The train has 59 regular cars and four locomotives total.

Sixteen cars derailed, with two locomotives leaking an estimated 4,000 gallons of diesel.

A significant amount spilled into the water, officials said. The leaked diesel spilled into the west branch Delaware River tributary

The train was traveling from New Jersey carrying “hazardous materials” that have not been deemed dangerous, troopers said.

According to a statement released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the train was carrying cars with sulfuric acid, radioactive soils containing low levels of alpha radiation and non-radioactive contaminated soil.

The NYS&W Railway said none of the cars containing hazardous materials were derailed and there were no releases or spills of hazardous material. There was one car containing corrosive liquid and 13 containing contaminated soil.

“There were two other commodities on the train, construction debris and non-hazmat soils,” according to the NYS&W statement. “All of the fuel from one of the locomotives has leaked from the fuel tank, a second locomotive had a fuel tank leak that was contained.”

…Minimal long-term environmental impact is expected, according to Matt Franklin, Emergency Management Director for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation…

“Highly visible diesel fuel slicks and strong fuel odors have been detected as far south as Lordville, NY and likely much further downstream,” a statement released by Friends of the Upper Delaware River says.

The railroad expected cleanup of the derailed train, which will involve use of heavy equipment, to last into early next week.

Four homes near the scene of the derailment were evacuated temporarily for safety due to strong fuel odor. However, no homes were damaged.

Emergency responders from Broome and Delaware counties were joined by New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, staff from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, New York State Police, NYSDEC, and the New York State Department of Transportation.

In addition, DEC Spills and Emergency Management staff and Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs) responded and are overseeing Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) drone flights to survey for additional impacts.

Notice the hazardous waste material being hauled was from New Jersey, which is apparently exporting its pollution problems to New York for disposal (with a little extra for Pennsylvania on the side), while Garden State Governor, Phil “the Panderer” Murphy, crows about what he’s doing to prevent accidents from fracking that have done no harm in the SRBC region where it’s practiced. Meanwhile, Governor Andrew “Corruptocrat” Cuomo sends out a couple of hacks to the site hoping to demonstrate he actually knows where the Southern Tier is, as his state willingly serves as the depository for New Jersey’s wastes and brags about his own fracking ban.

And, where is the DRBC on this? Well, it’s nowhere to be found in any of the news stories, of course, because this was a problem for New York State. Moreover, it’s a problem created by New Jersey’s insatiable need to send its dirt and garbage elsewhere where it can pollute someone’s else backyard. The DRBC can do nothing to prevent accidents. It can do nothing to clean them up. That’s why its supposed justification for its fracking ban is such a train wreck.

This accident, of course, even though it dumped fuel oil directly into the West Branch of the Delaware River, will, as the New York State DEC predicted, do no long-term damage. It will soon be forgotten. The NYS&W is a fine railroad (I was once a director of its then parent company) and, together with New York State officials, will do a great job cleaning everything up.

The accident also serves to put fracking, which will only occur miles from the river, into perspective as the minimal, virtually non-existent, risk, that it is. Will the DRBC care? No, of course not; it’s all about appeasing special interests with political virtue signaling. The courts will care, though. They will see the train coming a long way away. They’re not going to allow the banning of fracking (or trains for that matter) on the basis of speculated risks when the real ones are well-known and manageable.