Green Party Watchdog in McKean County, PA
Barbara Laxon has been an active Green Party member since 1993. She was an elected member of the Green Party of PA (GPPA) Steering Committee during 2020. Barbara has also represented GPPA on the GPUS EcoAction Committee since 2021.
The legacy of the oil and gas industry here in Bradford City, McKean County, PA, is centuries-long. It is still poisoning the inhabitants through the leaking oil and gas wells throughout the city. I have had to step up as a watchdog to bring awareness to the public of what is happening in what has become an environmental justice neighborhood.
While checking general trouble spots around town on August 23, I noticed what appeared to be a spill running from one of the hoses at the tank battery on Leigh Street. The spill ran across and down the street, following the natural incline of the street and the many cracks in the road.
I called the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) emergency line to report what I saw, and the man who answered did not seem surprised and said he would "talk to Cline about it."
My friend Laurie Barr from Save Our Streams PA said she would follow up with a written report on the DEP website. Laurie came and got the GPS coordinates and took a video of the area. She and I both noted the smell in the area, which is always evident, seemed even stronger than usual.
Laurie Barr has complained about this site in the past, since I brought it to her attention a few years ago. Leigh Street is at the end of Kennedy Street, just a few blocks above Bradford City Hall and the police station. It is also approximately five long blocks from Bradford Regional Medical Center and even closer to School Street Elementary School.
Within three days following my report, I noticed that the dirt on both sides of the street in the area of the spill had been excavated, and a pile of rubble appeared just down the road. Also evident were heavy-duty tire tracks leading to the area where the 'spill' ended, the vegetation was flattened, and there was a brown puddle at the end.
A few days after this, I returned to find what looked like a sinkhole where the vegetation had been flattened. I could see a black pipe in the bottom of the hole. Dirt had been returned to one side of the road. Nothing had been done to the road itself despite it being also covered by the 'spill.' I also noted that the other side of the road was asphalt with a groove to allow any fluid to run down into the ditch that had been created (with the hole at the bottom with the pipe running through it). The rubble was still there.
The next time I returned the hole seemed to be spreading down the hill. The rubble seemed to have been moved slightly, and now I could see what looked like plywood under it. At my most recent visit, I noticed that large fist-sized gravel had been poured down the hill filling in the sinkhole. I have pictures of all of this.
As a long-term Green, I have long known the dangers the oil and gas industry poses to human health, and to the environment and climate. The Green Party of Pennsylvania has been aware of this since its inception and works to counteract or eliminate these dangers.
Barbara Laxon is a member of the GPPA Communication Team.
The Green Party of PA, https://www.gpofpa.org, is an independent political party which stands in opposition to the two corporate parties. GPPA candidates promote public policy based on the Green Party’s Four Pillars: grassroots democracy, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, and social justice/equal opportunity. For further information about GPPA, please email [email protected]. Please follow GPPA on social media: Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/gpofpa/; Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/pagreenparty/; and Twitter, https://twitter.com/GreenPartyofPA.
For more information:
Laurie Barr's video, which is included in her report on the DEP website, is available at
Save Our Streams PA,
"Allegheny National Forest: What Goes on Behind the Scenes" by Barbara Laxon, GPPA News Release, April 8, 2020, https://www.gp.org/allegheny_national_forest_what_goes_on_behind_the_scenes