The following is the testimony presented by Dr. Peri Unligil, the Allegheny Group’s lead person on air quality issues, at the March 28 hearing:
As a physician who has been practicing in Pittsburgh for over 10 years, as a mother, and as citizen concerned about the environment, I have multiple concerns about the proposed compressor station in Frazer township.
1 – Emissions from the planned compressor station will increase local ozone levels and worsen the health of my patients, who are already at elevated risk of health problems.
The patients I see in my internal medicine practice are a small but representative sample of the Allegheny County population. Most have at least one risk factor increasing their risk for health complications associated with poor air quality. Many are senior, many already have asthma or COPD, are current or former smokers, and many have occupational exposures that increase their risk of lung and heart disease. A higher than national percentage have obesity and diabetes. I support them as they adopt healthy lifestyle changes including exercise. This becomes more complicated when I find myself warning them not to exercise outdoors when ozone and fine particulate levels are forecast as elevated. Increased ozone levels, whether you are exercising outdoors or not, have been shown to increase hospital visits for breathing problems as well as overall mortality.
2 – Emissions from the planned compressor station will worsen the health of our children.
In my other role as mother, I have concerns about increased ozone precursor emissions as well. Though I worry about its effect on my children’s health whenever we have a “yellow” air quality index day, my concerns are most acute when my soccer-loving children, one of whom has asthma, have practices and games on days with compromised air quality. Their coaches have been inconvenienced more than once by my decision to keep my children from playing on a certain day due only to forecasts of elevated ozone levels, and their administrators are familiar with my urgings to cancel practices for this reason. In an area devoted to outdoor sport, and which already has marginal air quality, we cannot afford, and do not accept, further compromise to the environmental health of our children.
3 – Emissions from the compressor will be added to that of multiple other local sources, such as the nearby Springdale coal fired power plant, and on a larger scale, to that of dozens of Marcellus well sites and compressors in western PA. The collective total of these emissions has the potential to seriously damage progress the region has made.
Today we consider a compressor station which is anticipated to add significantly to local emissions. However, it is also our opportunity to raise our concerns about the air and water pollution being produced by the Marcellus Shale industry in this entire region. Our region’s headlong plunge into this industry has been accompanied by little overall pause and planning to ensure that the long-term consequences on our future health and that of our environment are kept foremost. I urge you to reject the permit for this compressor station, as in this region we cannot afford to again place short-term profit ahead of the long-term consequences on our health and environment.