COUPON - Residents on the Blair/Cambria county border around the village of Coupon say they have concerns about a developing effort to begin Marcellus Shale drilling in Logan Township.
The residents, who get their water from private wells, say they want their neighbors to know about the drill site and they want to know more about what's going to happen.
"We're not necessarily opposed to it," Gallitzin Township resident Wayne Nelms of 146 High Meadow Lane said. "It's just how they're doing it in such a clandestine way."
Chevron Appalachia LLC has targeted an area above Altoona's watershed where it intends to set up a Marcellus Shale drilling rig, Nelms said. Repeated attempts to contact Chevron Appalachia for comment were unsuccessful.
He and other residents are forming a community action group to monitor the activities and what they believe to be a potential danger to local water supplies. So far, they've established a group called Altoona Watershed Protection on Facebook.
The group also intends to attend a 7 p.m. meeting today of the Gallitzin Township supervisors.
"Because of the way the law is written, I know it's the state [Department of Environmental Protection] that oversees these operations," Nelms said, "but then there's House Bill 1800 by Rep. Bud George."
George, D-Houtzdale, is the prime sponsor of the proposed legislation that calls for "responsible growth of the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry through reasonable community protections, public safety requirements and environmental safeguards."
House Bill 1800 would amend Pennsylvania's Oil and Gas Act with several features, including new setback requirements from water sources, extending the presumed liability of a gas well polluting a water supply and cradle-to-grave tracking and increased monitoring of Marcellus shale wastewater, according to the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus.
Altoona Water Authority Executive Director Mark Perry said he has been aware of the proposed drilling, which was one of the reasons for last year's study with recordings of current conditions.
"You'd have to be able to show a difference if changes were to take place," Perry said. "So yes, we have concerns, but we're also relying on DEP and others to make sure the drilling is done properly. ... And we'll certainly continue to monitor it."
Until a year ago, the gas well sites in Logan Township were owned by Chief Oil & Gas, the same company that initiated gas drilling in Juniata Township in the southwestern portion of Blair County.
Chevron, the parent company of Chevron Appalachia LLC, with an office in Moon Township, west of Pittsburgh, bought several well sites in southwestern Pennsylvania, including the ones in Logan Township, Chief Oil & Gas spokeswoman Kristi Gittins said.
The only time Logan Township supervisors addressed the proposed drilling project was in October 2010.
At that time, they agreed to ask Appalachian Geophysical Services of Killbuck, Ohio, to provide a $5,750 bond to provide financial protection for a half mile of Maple Street, formerly known as Dogtown Road, near Coupon.
The company brought in heavy equipment to test the Marcellus shale formation for the presence of natural gas. No road damage was reported.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.