PANAMA, NY - New York State's cautious approach to permitting hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus shale for natural gas, and the disposal of potentially hazardous waste from such operations, is of little comfort to residents of this Chautauqua County community.
That's because they find themselves living next door to a soon to be operational waste disposal facility built literally a few feet over the state line in Columbus Township, Pennsylvania.
After years of an exhaustive permitting process, the federalEnvironmental Protection Agency has granted a permit for Bear Lake Properties LLC to begin trucking in fracking fluids to a transfer station at the corner of Weeks Road and State Line Road.
The fluids, once off loaded, will then be pumped through an underground pipeline a few feet below the surface, traveling approximately one mile to two no longer producing gas wells.
The waste will then be infused back down the wells and into the rock about a mile below the surface for its ultimate disposal.
One of the wells is about 100 yards from the NY/Pennsylvania state line.
"This is the wrong place for this kind of project," said Bill Peiffer, a Warren County PA resident who has been fighting the project for years, while noting that there are homes directly across the road from the transfer station, which have wells upon which the occupants rely on for water.
Peiffer has also been assisting New York residents in marshalling opposition .
"My worst fear is it's going to contaminate the water wells," said Mary Ellen Sykes, who with her husband Joseph lives on a 300 acre spread two miles away from the transfer station.
"What's gonna happen if they contaminate the water? ....we're done forever," Sykes said.