HARRISBURG − December 13, 2023 − State Sen. Katie Muth (D-Chester/Montgomery/Berks) joined investigative journalist Joshua Pribanic from Public Herald and oil and gas industry workers at a press conference earlier this week to raise alarm about the dangers to workers treating fracking’s radioactive waste and new evidence of pollution entering waterways in the Commonwealth.
The press conference, held at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, included remarks from two workers, Eric Steppe and Quinn Aughenbaugh, who are former employees of a Eureka Resources facility in Williamsport. Their stories, and those of several other workers, were detailed in an investigative report released by Public Herald and can be read at this link. Several legislators and advocates also participated in the press conference including state Rep. Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia); state Rep. Danielle Friel-Otten (D-Chester); and Alison Steele, Executive Director, Environmental Health Project. Senator Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) and Senator Lindsey Williams (D-Allegheny) also attended the press conference.
“Pennsylvanians are exposed daily to potentially toxic and radioactive waste produced by the oil and gas industry. And sadly, our government continues to permit the oil and gas and petrochemical industries to further loot and pollute our waterways, air, soil, and poison our families,” Muth said. “I applaud these brave workers for having the courage to tell the truth about the dangerous and toxic operations they were exposed to and how their concerns about safety were not only dismissed but mocked. Regardless of how you feel about fracking or chemical manufacturing or any kind of fossil fuel energy extraction, we all must agree that the harm that happens to the public and the workers has to stop. Government regulators cannot continue to pretend this harm doesn’t exist. Decades of harm from the fossil fuel industry is well-documented and failure to face these truths is simply a failure of government.”
At the press conference, Steppe read a letter that was sent by the workers to Lycoming County District Attorney Ryan Gardner that included the unsafe work environment they had been subjected to, which included exposure to radium that left several workers sick, inhalation of methanol byproducts and other toxic gasses, and constant exposure to poorly maintained highly pressurized vessels containing hot gasses and caustics. The workers indicated that the facility has progressively deteriorated, and the safety issues there and the concerns raised have been left unaddressed.
Dr. Barbara W Brandom, Concerned Health Professionals of Pennsylvania and Physicians for Social Responsibility, also contributed a written statement of support for the workers. Click here to read her statement.
Also, please check out the other articles about radioactive frack waste and other pollutional harm related to this topic published by the Public Herald. This article outlines and maps all locations with radioactive waste in the Commonwealth and this is a complete list of Public Herald’s investigations covering or mentioning fracking’s radioactive waste.