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Community group will investigate health threats from oil & gas sites in Westmoreland

Protect PT will take a health & safety tour of oil and gas sites in the Southwestern Pa. region in early November. Methane gas and health-harming pollution are known to leak from drilling and fracking operations, compressor stations and other oil and gas equipment. Several studies show threats to health from pollution--particularly of expectant mothers and the more vulnerable--at distances of up to 2000ft away from an oil & gas site.

Protect PT is teaming up with Earthworks to film sites using a state-of-the-art optical gas imaging camera that detects and makes easy to see normally invisible oil and gas pollution.

“Emissions can cause health impacts to those living nearby and are worsening climate change,” said Gillian Graber, Executive Director of Protect PT. “We’re excited to partner with Earthworks to view local sites, identify any leaks, and help protect our neighbors.”

Most of the gas that is drilled and moves through sites in or near residents’ backyards is methane gas. Methane is 86 times worse for the climate than carbon dioxide over 20 years. But methane also leaks alongside volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are known to cause serious health problems including cancer.

"Our goal with the optical gas imaging camera is to document and show residents air pollution, so we all have the tools to protect our community and our climate,” said Melissa Ostroff, Pennsylvania Field Advocate with Earthworks. "I look forward to partnering with Protect PT and community members to investigate health and climate-harming pollution in Westmoreland County."

If methane or VOC leaks are found at a site, residents will be supported in efforts to contact the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection to report it.

The group will tour several sites in the area Nov. 3 and 4. Anyone owning property next to a gas well or compressor station is invited to contact or call 724-392-7023 to ask for their site to be added to the tour.

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.

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