Science & Technology
8:00 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Tour de Frack Bicyclists Come Through Pittsburgh

Anti-Marcellus Shale cycling activists known as the Tour de Frack will come through Pittsburgh Sunday and hold a reception at the Pump House in Homestead at 7:30 PM with entertainment by local musicians, including Mike Stout.

The cyclists will leave Pittsburgh Monday morning, according to Jason Bell of Evans City in Butler County, traveling through small towns, parks and large cities and holding awareness events before joining "Stop the Frack Attack," the first national anti-fracking rally with 10,000 participants expected on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on July 28.

Bell said the industry has yet to show fracking can be done safely, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is not protecting people, as homeowners all over the state report similar problems with water contamination, air pollution, and a decrease in property values because of heavy truck traffic.

Furthermore, said Bell, instead of improving, the failure rate of casings that are supposed to keep contaminants from the drilling process out of aquifers has risen from 6.2% in 2010 to 7.2% so far this year. "We're finding benzene and toluene — these are not things that were there before — also, naturally occurring elements like arsenic, and we are seeing an extraordinary number of people with arsenic poisoning. Some of the symptoms include losing your hair, joint pains, fingernails growing down over the tips of your fingers."

Air quality is easy to ignore, said Bell, because it's invisible, but contaminants are being found such as acetone, toluene and chloromethane in rural areas where the only industry other than fracking is farming.

Bell said meetings are being scheduled for July 28 with representatives in Washington, D.C. to share the human stories of the many people adversely affected by fracking, because the state of Pennsylvania is not taking this threat seriously enough, and the oversight the DEP is providing is "lax and needs improvement."