West Deer Township Supervisors Unanimously DENY Deep Well Pad Application Based on Evidence Provided by Concerned Residents
December 21, 2021
Jo and Tim Resciniti, CROWD, 412-651-7692, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Graves Marcucci, 412-897-0569, email@example.com
Vanessa Lynch, 757-277-3729, firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Martin, 412-427-3359, email@example.com
West Deer Township, Allegheny County, PA – After nine public hearings spanning four months, the West Deer Township Board of Supervisors unanimously denied the conditional use and land development permit applications for Olympus Energy’s proposed Dionysus deep well site on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. The Township Board of Supervisors denied the applications because the proposal did not meet Township ordinance requirements for several reasons, including a failure to meet required setbacks and public health and safety standards.
The Board’s decision notes that community members “demonstrated ‘with a high degree of probability’ that the proposed Deep Well Site will substantially affect the health, safety and welfare of the community, greater than what is normally expected from this type of use.”
The decision also acknowledged important evidence presented by members of the public detailing Olympus Energy’s “significant and disproportionate history or DEP violations at other, similar Deep Well Sites” and that the company’s violations are “significantly in excess of the pro rata number of violations assessed against other similar gas well operators”, therefore concluding “as a matter of law that the proposed Application will have a detrimental impact on the health, safety and welfare of residents in the Township and will deteriorate the environment in the Township.”
Hard-hitting facts presented by Concerned Residents of West Deer Township (CROWD) and other concerned residents made all the difference. The proceedings brought together more community members willing to raise concerns than ever before.
“On the first night of the Dionysus public hearing in August, there was a line of West Deer residents seeking party status that stretched out of the back of our local high school auditorium,” said Jo Resciniti, CROWD spokesperson. “It was powerful that night and at each session to see so many people in the community show up to make sure the protections offered by the Township’s ordinances were followed.”
“The unanimous (4-0) decision for denial of the Dionysus Well Pad is an answered prayer for our family, as well as our neighbors. We specifically are relieved from the feeling of helplessness caused by potentially being forced to raise our children merely a few hundred feet from pipeline interconnects, pigging stations, and having an industrial well pad site as the view in our backyard,” said West Deer Township resident Ryan Koleno.
“This has been an amazing team effort of community organizing, fact-finding and presentations, all done to ensure the project complies with common sense public health and safety standards. This shows that a collaborative effort to seek out and present the facts can help municipal officials make better and more informed decisions,” said Lisa Graves Marcucci, PA Coordinator, Community Outreach for the Environmental Integrity Project. “We hope other local officials take notice of the West Deer Township decision and hold companies accountable for compliance with local ordinances that protect communities.”
“After months of diligent work, West Deer families were heard loud and clear: the Dionysus well pad is not in the best interests of their community. Industrial processes such as oil and gas operations should not be placed where children live, learn and play. It is the duty of every adult in the community to protect the health of children, who can’t speak for themselves,” said Vanessa Lynch, Pennsylvania Field Organizer, Moms Clean Air Force.
“To our knowledge, this is only the second time in Allegheny County that an application like this has been denied based on objector evidence presented. The West Deer officials did the right thing. These elected officials followed the proper process and honored what their constituents want for their community, which is to make public health and safety the top priority. Facts do matter: the evidence researched by CROWD and other concerned residents clearly demonstrated non-compliance with the local land use ordinances as well as risks to public health and safety. This is a true triumph of grassroots organizing — knowing for what you stand, protecting what you love, and mobilizing for change!” said Robin Martin of Food & Water Watch.
The West Deer Township Board of Supervisors’ Decision and Resolution is available here.
The Dionysus hearing exhibits are available here.
About Concerned Residents of West Deer (CROWD): CROWD is a collective of West Deer Township residents committed to the health and safety of our neighborhoods, roads, businesses, schools, parks, and open spaces.
About Environmental Integrity Project (EIP): EIP is a 19-year-old, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and strengthening policy to protect public health and the environment.
About Food & Water Watch: We mobilize regular people to build political power to move bold and uncompromised solutions to the most pressing food, water, and climate problems of our time. We work to protect people’s health, communities, and democracy from the growing destructive power of the most powerful economic interests.
About Moms Clean Air Force: Our mission is to protect children from air pollution and climate change. We envision a safe, stable, and equitable future where all children breathe clean air. We are a community of over 1,000,000 moms and dads united against air pollution – including the urgent crisis of our changing climate – to protect our children’s health. We fight for Justice in Every Breath, recognizing the importance of equitable solutions in addressing air pollution and climate change. For more information, go to https://www.momscleanairforce.org or follow us on Twitter @CleanAirMoms, Instagram @cleanairmoms, or Facebook.