Two state senators are calling on the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) to conduct an immediate review of a critical communications breakdown that occurred in Beaver and Lawrence Counties following the illegal dumping of thousands of gallons of fracking wastewater in Ohio.
Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, and Senator Elder Vogel Jr. (R-47) wrote to PEMA last week asking for answers to why local officials and the public were not informed about the possible threat to drinking water downstream from the dumping.
“While a long list of agencies, including PEMA and the PA State Police were notified of the illegal dumping in Ohio near the Pennsylvania border, no one took the all-important step of sharing this critical information with other relevant agencies,” the senators wrote in their letter to PEMA Director Glenn Cannon.
They said that neither the Department of Environmental Protection nor two Beaver Country drinking water suppliers downstream were notified of the illegal dumping, potentially putting more than 17,000 public water customers at risk.
Baker and Vogel asked for a review of the situation and recommendations for an improved notification process, noting that the incident could have caused or exacerbated a serious public health threat.
“The fact that this dumping happened in a neighboring state does not absolve our duty to share the information with the proper authorities,” Baker said. “Clearly, there was a serious breakdown in communication that needs to be addressed.”
Vogel added that he wants answers so constituents in his district have assurances that their water supply is clean.
It’s crucial that we get to the bottom of this. We need to know what happened so that this doesn’t happen again,” Vogel said. “It is not acceptable that the drinking water authorities were not contacted. This could have been a very dangerous situation and those in charge of supplying our residents with clean water need to be among the first contacted.”
Diane McNaughton – Senator Baker (717) 787-7428
Cheryl Schriner – Senator Vogel(717) 787-3076