Monday, November 7, 2011

Lets Talk- Message to Anti- Natural Gas Development Activists

It recently came to my attention that my integrity and credibility is being besmirched and challenged publicly. I will respond to the challenge by turning it into an opportunity to start a dialogue with my challengers.
My discussions on the issue of the mitigation of the potential impacts related to natural gas development in Otsego County have been based on the facts and methodology that have been used at both the state and federal level. These developed regulations have successful worked at ensuring the protection of human health and the environment. I focused my public dialogue on the principles associated with environmental impact abatement strategies.
·         Baseline and regular monitoring of water quality is imperative. This is done to ensure that the mitigation measures employed are working as expected.  
·         Mitigating or eliminating pathways of potential exposure ensure that people will not be exposed.  In order for public health to be affected by any contaminant there has to be a pathway linking the two. If state mandated permit conditions and regulations are designed to eliminate pathways, then human exposure should be eliminated, sparing any negative health implications.
·         Exposure pathways can be eliminated. For example by the use of containment (closed loop systems) and setbacks. In the scenario of air emissions, setbacks allow for contaminant levels to drop to below ambient levels at their potential point of contact with the local population.
·         Water and Air Quality Standards. Ensuring that in the case of a completed pathway, then exposure if it does occur occurs at levels below quality standard. This effectively protects from acute, chronic health impacts and clinical disease progression.
Mitigation strategies employed by the NYSDEC in the sGEIS are similar to other NYSDEC and USEPA mitigation strategies employed in other circumstances.  A good example is the containment of petroleum in an underground storage tank at a neighborhood gas station. There are close to 600,000 underground storage tanks (UST) in the US. These tanks contain either petroleum or hazardous materials. A leak from a UST means certain groundwater contamination. Groundwater supplies must be protected since they supply a large majority of the drinking water for US residents.  Regulations have been developed at the federal and state level to effectively minimize the incidents of leakage, rusting, and spillage of petroleum from UST.  The UST program has successfully managed to protect water. Therefore, the concept of effective containment works; closed loop systems will and have worked in eliminating certain exposure pathways (Air emissions from benzene and VOC’s from open pits containing frac flowback are eliminated no ozone, hence no asthma).
Being mindful about protecting human health and protecting the environmental is all about maintaining meaningful dialogue with all involved to solve environmental issues.   I urge everyone to keep the dialogue constructive and solution oriented.
Uni Blake
Environmental Toxicologist

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