Inspectors are the front line of the state’s effort to ensure development in the Marcellus is done right and with the least environmental impact possible.
The Post-Gazette’s analysis of every fine the state levied against Marcellus drillers from 2005 through June 1 this year shows that a third of spills (59 of 179) were first spotted by a state inspector. Inspectors also caught runoff problems, stream and wetland encroachment, and many other violations.
A former Department of Environmental Protection bureau chief says that points to the need for more inspectors.
“I think the numbers [of spills found by inspectors] raise a legitimate question that needs to be answered,” said George Jugovic, a former Southwest DEP bureau chief who now works as chief counsel for PennFuture, a statewide environmental organization. “If the identification of spills 30 percent of the time is dependent on DEP inspectors being on-site, how many spills are we missing?”
In addition, because of the significant data problems the DEP has with oil and gas information, the agency is that much more dependent on its inspectors, said Scott Perry, the DEP assistant secretary who oversees oil and gas.