HASTINGS - When union workers and environmental activists picked a Hastings-area site to protest inaction on a Marcellus Shale severance tax, they made one mistake.
Marcellus activity isn't occurring within miles of it.
Service Employees International Union officials issued an apology Monday, saying they mistakenly set up their protest Thursday - and a makeshift tollbooth asking the industry to pay its fair share - next to a surface well property that has been around for years and isn't set up for shale drilling.
"There is no Marcellus Shale drilling on that property, and we've contacted the property owners and apologized. It was a mistake, and there was no malice intended even when we thought it was a Marcellus well," said Neil Bhaerman, a SEIU Healthcare spokesman. "It was an honest mistake that we are going to take extra care to ensure never happens again."
The union, with environmental officials and area parents, set up protests at three western Pennsylvania sites Thursday to urge for the shale drilling industry to pay its fair share.
Bhaerman said local workers from an area nursing home told them about an apparent drilling site near Third Avenue, just outside of Hastings, and the union didn't do enough homework on it.
A permit search Monday by the Mirror showed no Marcellus gas permits approved within several miles of the site.
Bhaerman said difficulty pinning down exact locations of permitted Marcellus activity was one reason but "we didn't cross all of our t's and dot our i's in this case. It won't happen again."