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Complaints in Western NY raise questions about drilling safety


Information obtained by a local environmental activist is raising questions about the safety of natural gas drilling.

CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY -- Walter Hang, of Toxics Targeting, used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more than 140 complaints filed with the Chautauqua County Health Department by residents living near drilling rigs. The complaints, filed over a 25 year period, correspond with the time when gas drilling started in Western New York.

The DEC is looking into the information obtained by Hang. A 2009 letter obtained by DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis to state officials stated that problems associated with drilling for natural gas were minimal. "Requirements in place since the 1980s have successfully rendered drilling associated methane migration so rare that there has not been a reported incident since 1996," Grannis says.

Hang says the complaints filed with Chautauqua County Health Department should be looked at more closely before the DEC makes any final decision to allow more drilling in New York State. " There are all of these examples where people suddenly got contaminated. I don't know what's going on. They reach out to the DEC and nothing happens," Hang says.

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