COUPON - Concerned residents filled the Gallitzin Township Municipal Building on Thursday, but many were still learning about the impacts that a proposed Marcellus Shale drilling site would have on their area.
A proposed drilling site along the Blair/Cambria border has many residents worried about the future quality of their water.
"The more people know and are educated, the better chance we have of controlling our environment," resident Wayne Nelms said.
Although residents are not entirely against the drilling, Nelms said the "clandestine" way in which the drillers were conducting business needs to be stopped.
Chevron Appalachia LLC plans to set up Marcellus Shale drilling rig in an area above Altoona's watershed close to the border, Nelms said.
Residents have a right to know about the drilling process and the possible effects, and if there is just a 1 percent chance area wells and waterways could be contaminated from the drilling process, it is 100 percent unacceptable and should not be permitted, Nelms added.
Officials and residents from Logan Township need to get involved in the process, because the proposed drilling site could affect the quality of water in both Cambria and Blair counties, including water that is supplied to major areas such as Altoona, Nelms said.
But the township has no authority to stop the drilling, supervisors said.
The entire process is designed to be "hands-off," one said.
Chevron has no immediate plans for Marcellus shale drilling on sites in Logan Township, spokesman Nathan Calvert said.
Chevron acquired permits for the Logan Township sites in June 2011, as part of a purchase from Chief Oil & Gas of 228,000 leased acres in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Permits identifying the Logan Township sites for potential gas well drilling were issued May 11, 2011, as shown on the state Department of Environmental Protection's website.
The permits are good for one year, Calvert said.
The drilling companies show some money in smaller, poorer towns, and the residents take it without knowing the long-term effects the drilling will have, one resident said.
"It blows my mind the way that they extract this gas and the chemicals that are used," Altoona resident Corinne Green said.
Green, a Penn State Altoona student majoring in environmental studies, attended the meeting to address her concerns with the drilling process.
Green also warned supervisors to not approve an ordinance under Act 13, which regulates impact fees on well sites in the event of an emergency and would allow the township to collect those fees.
It makes it difficult for residents to prove their well water was contaminated by drilling, Green said.
"It takes away local control from the municipalities," she said.
The proposed drilling site could potentially affect all of Altoona and the surrounding communities, Green said.
Active on the Penn State Altoona campus as the leader of the Environmental Club, Green said she is worried local municipalities may sign on to collect the revenues up front without thinking of the long-term costs to residents' health.
Any potential mishaps would not affect just Gallitzin Township residents, but people in both Blair and Cambria counties - including Green and her 2-year old daughter.
"I want her to know what clean water is," Green said. "I don't want her to take a bath in clean water shipped in from another county."
Residents formed a community group "Altoona Watershed Protection" on Facebook to organize and inform others of their efforts. The group said it plans to contact the DEP as well as spearhead local efforts to make sure residents of Gallitzin, Logan and surrounding townships are aware of the proposed drilling site.
Overall, residents expressed their concern that the proposed drilling was proceeding without any input from residents.
"[The drillers] need to be responsible and accountable to the people," Nelms said.