My industry is one of the most closely regulated industries. It might be the most heavily regulated, but I’m not in a position to make that claim. Wouldn’t surprise me, though.
For more on all of that, Google FIFRA, the Food Quality Act, the Environmental Protection Agency or the PA Department of Agriculture.
While I rarely get involved in pest control, my specialty, termite work. is fraught with danger. Think of it this way. If you pay an operator to eradicate a nest of stinging insects, he’s going to apply a few ounces of pesticides. If you need my services and your target structure exceeds 200 linear feet, depending upon the construction and possible anomalies, we’re likely talking about the application of a couple of hundred gallons of termiticide.
When correctly and safely applied after redundant, possibly tridundant inspections, after all subterranean utility lines have been identified and steered clear of, and assuming the safety of the operator and the residents have been heeded, the sheer volume of the application is no big deal.
With all of that typed, my outfit has seen to it that no other technician of a similar specialty with any of our competitors is as heavily trained and retrained as I am. And that is their way of setting me up to succeed, rather than to fail. A failure on my part could compromise the safety of people, plants, wildlife and the environment as a whole.
Over the years, I’ve had incidents, but nothing that led to any enforcement, sanctions or punitive damages coming at the hands of the EPA, the DER or the PA DOA. In fact, putting the “Big Wheel incident” aside, my record is superlative.
But I want to revisit that word “fail.” What constitutes a failure on my part?
I could drill or auger through your natural gas line, which could result in a catastrophic explosion.
I could damage sprinkler systems, sever sub-slab communication lines, puncture underground downspout piping and all of that sort of good stuff. And I should point out, if you drill, auger, bore or trench day-in and day-out, odds are that an incident could happen.
But as I am applying products to the soil and trying to project them more than a few feet down, I am trained to be forever mindful of where those products might end up at. Meaning, we don’t want them to find their way to any drilled wells, French drains, sump pumps, tributaries, lakes, ponds, rivers or into the sewer system.
In effect, every single day I am being paid to ensure that nothing I do could ever compromise any minute aspect of our water supply. And to this date, I have never had a reportable incident. I’ve had brushes with disaster, but my training, expertise and experience has always prevented said disasters. With that said, know that those aforementioned disasters do happen. Google “fish kills.”
If the worst were to happen, the products I deal in have a chemical half-life, meaning they would not persist in the environment in perpetuity. Can the gas drillers make that claim, while they claim proprietary privilege over theirs? Or should I say, secrecy?
But if I had had a disaster, my company would be on the hook for the containment, cleanup, restoration, well-replacement and on and on and on. And we would also be staring down the barrel of lawsuits, sanctions and prohibitively brutal fines. We’re talking untold millions here, not chump change.
My former district manager used to make it a habit to arrive unannounced at my job sites. And if he found even a single drop of product misapplied, a single freaking drop, he’d bark “Did you get any in the god damn ground?” and the safety tirade would ensue. Now that’s oversight! That's paying attention to detail. That's safety.
Yet, every single day I sit here reading about all of these gas-drilling incidents that are literally disasters, or incidents fast approaching disasters.
And I sit here reading about how these gas outfits are injecting carcinogenic chemicals by the millions of gallons into your local environment, putting your water supply at serious risk of contamination.
And I read in awe of how these same companies are allowed to be purposely vague about the toxic mixes, the chemical cocktails they are injecting into your environment to the tune of millions upon millions of gallons. And every day, no less.
I just read this story about how some “mineral oil” spill damn near melted a stretch of road in Laceyville. A 440 gallon spill, they say. And I couldn’t help but think about what would happen to my company and myself if a Department of Agriculture field inspector found as little as 4 gallons of termiticide running down the curb line and away from my job site. I shudder to think.
This is where I’m at.
I trip over regulations almost everywhere I step while applying perhaps, maybe 100 gallons, but the gas drilling outfits are basically set to apply billions of gallons of chemical-laced water with little or no oversight. That’s where I’m at. And that prospect, that reality should frighten the hell out of each and every one of us.
And while our politicians trip over themselves to draft belated regulatory legislation, your water supply may have already been compromised. Just you wait and see. It’s just that, I can’t help but thinking “Boy! What if I did that?”
Amazed, I am.