County meeting is sought on Marcellus Shale issues

SMETHPORT – The McKean County Board of Commissioners is considering a request for a public meeting on issues linked with the drilling of Marcellus Shale natural gas wells.Bill Belitskus, a Hamlin Township resident who said he is concerned with health and safety issues involving Shale wells, appealed Tuesday to the commissioners to schedule the meeting.He said a meeting is needed because there is “a breakdown in communications” between the public and Shale developers such as Shell and Seneca Resources.Belitskus said Shell has an ambitious plan for drilling Shale wells in the county “but nobody knows what it is.”“It’s time to set up a meeting,” Belitskus said during a lengthy discussion with the commissioners. “Let’s have dialogue.”Christine Hendryx, another Hamlin Township resident, asked the commissioners to respond to a five-page letter that outlined 15 areas of concern about a proposed Shell water holding tank near her home along Mead Run.The commissioners received the letter a few months ago, but have never formally discussed it at a meeting.Commissioner Joe DeMott said the board thought the Hendryx letter was a copy of a document sent to the U.S. Forest Service about the proposed project in the Allegheny National Forest.“We assumed you were letting us know you were unhappy with the Forest Service,” DeMott said.“We’re asking for your help,” Hendryx said in explaining why a copy of the letter went to the commissioners.Hendryx and her husband—Dr. Jan Hendryx—sought support Monday from the Hamlin Township Board of Supervisors on the same issue.Hamlin Supervisor Joni Britton and her husband, Joe attended the commissioners’ meeting, but did not take part in the discussion.Belitskus, who said his residence is within 6,000 feet of a Shale well, told the commissioners to “get over the euphoria” of the economic benefits of drilling and look at the “downside.”Belitskus said he is asking the commissioners to “set up a meeting on health impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling. He accused the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of failing to do its job to regulate the drilling.See full article by purchasing the Nov. 16 edition of The Kane Republican.