Forum gives opportunity to hear both sides

Staff Writer
The Steuben Courier Advocate

A recent decision by the Steuben County Department of Public Works (DPW) to recommend accepting into the Steuben County landfill gas drilling waste from Pennsylvania will be the subject of a community forum to be held at the Bath Fire Hall in Bath, New York on Monday, June 13, 2011, at 7:00 p.m.

If approved by the County Legislature, Steuben County would become the first publicly operated landfill in New York state to import this drilling waste.

Speaking at the forum will be Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a physicist and author of a report that found drill cuttings from the Marcellus Shale to be dangerously radioactive, and Vincent Spagnoletti, DPW Commissioner, who has recommended that the County accept the drill cuttings based upon studies that show the cuttings pose no environmental risk.

These conflicting reports about the safety of importing into the landfill these cuttings will be the focus of the forum.  Some scientists have determined that the Marcellus drill cuttings contain levels of water soluble Radium-226, an alpha-emitter that can be dangerous when ingested as liquids or breathed into the lungs.  These scientists have also noted that Radium-226 decays into radon gas, one of the world's leading causes of cancer.

Mr. Spagnoletti based his recommendation to accept the drill cuttings on a letter issued by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation stating that the drill cuttings do not fall under the regulatory definition of radioactive waste and are safe enough to be buried at the landfill, as well as a report by CoPhysics Corp showing low radioactivity in the cuttings.

A decision by the County Legislature to import these drill cuttings would place Steuben County at the forefront of this issue  The forum on June 13 will be an excellent opportunity for members of our community to decide whether this is where we want our County to be.

Mark Schlechter

Bath, NY