by Marty Robacker Wilder, Editor
How dare they?
How could anything be more important to a community than public safety?
Three people were nearly killed in the Bradford area over the past few months by “mysterious explosions” and, reportedly, there have also been other gas-related incidents that never made it to the press.
And, yet, when this issue is brought to the table, it’s done at a meeting that is “by invitation only.”
Who was on the guest list? Bradford Township Supervisors, Foster Township Supervisors, McKean County Commissioners, State Police, state Department of Environmental Protection, Bradford Township Volunteer Fire Department, McKean County Emergency Management Agency, McKean County Sheriff’s Department, Columbia Gas and National Fuel Gas, an aide for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Bradford City Fire Department, the state Public Utility Commission, Cline Oil, Howard Drilling, a representative from Travelers Insurance — and even an attorney for a personal injury law firm.
Did we miss anyone? Oh, yeah — you. Your invitation must be in the mail.
The Era, as you’ve probably read, was denied access to the meeting. As your representatives in these settings, we must ask: How dare they?
How dare they meet in private on an issue of such great public concern?
We honestly don’t care how they justify this secret meeting — we’ve heard every excuse in the book over the years — because nothing can forgive their behavior not just as a violation of the Sunshine law but as a violation of the public trust.
We would like to tell you, in detail, about what was discussed inside the meeting hall but all we received was a secondhand report about these “mysterious” explosions which occurred, one on Dec. 12 in which two people were injured, and a second Feb. 28 in which a lucky homeowner was out shoveling snow when his house exploded.
Sheriff Brad Mason was kind enough to speak to our reporters after the meeting but, in all honesty, he merely reiterated what’s already been said: Gas migration is being explored as a possible factor in the house explosions and similar incidents that have reportedly occurred in the Bradford area.
Since nobody seems to be able to pinpoint the exact source of these explosions, there has been broad speculation that ongoing oil drilling activity in the general vicinity may somehow be triggering gas to migrate into people’s homes.
As we all know, holes have been poked in this historic Bradford oilfield for more than 100 years and many abandoned and uncapped wells continue to make what’s been called “Swiss cheese” of our underground terrain.
Could this provide an explanation for the “mysterious” explosions? And could that, in turn, also be part of the reason for a closed-door meeting?
After all, nobody wants to point the finger at anyone or anything that revolves around the oil and gas industry. Some believe it’s the panacea for all the ills of our economically depressed region — regardless of any consequences.
Already, there is a nationwide debate simmering on the environmental concerns over how a new source of energy, the Marcellus Shale, is being extracted from the ground. A couple explosions here and there in a little town known as Bradford, Pa. — one of the birthplaces of the oil industry — could really stir the pot.
Interestingly, as public officials were gathered Tuesday at the Bradford Township Volunteer Firehall to discuss this important matter, the press is marking Sunshine Week. It’s a time when we point to the ongoing efforts to “shed light” on issues of public concern. The irony could not be greater.
We have talked about these explosions in the newsroom amazed, as always, about public officials’ reluctance to speak to these very serious concerns.
Our last comment, always, is, guess we’ll just have to wait for someone to get killed.
This editorial was republished in full with permission, courtesy of Marty Robacker Wilder and The Bradford Era.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Posted by Solomon's words for the wise at 3/21/2011 12:52:00 PM