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Northern Panhandle doctor questions gas drilling operation

TRIADELPHIA, W.Va. -- A doctor is questioning a Chesapeake Energy natural gas drilling operation in Ohio County because of concerns about air pollution.Dr. Michael Blatt tells The Intelligencer and News Register that he supports oil and gas drilling. But he is concerned about the amount of methane, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde that Chesapeake is releasing into the air from its natural gas operations.Blatt lives near Chesapeake's Brian Dytko drilling pad outside Wheeling. In an objection filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection, Blatt said about 100 people live within 3,000 feet of the well pad, including families with young children."Oil and gas drilling is fine in areas with low-density populations. But we have people living out here right next to where they are putting these wells and compressors," Blatt told the newspaper.
The DEP's Division of Air Quality has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday in Triadelphia on Chesapeake's air quality permit for the operation."I am just a member of the community," said Blatt, who specializes in lung and breathing problems. "I see good and bad from the gas drilling. We just need to make sure that both sides of the industry -- positive and negative -- are discussed in this public setting."Chesapeake spokeswoman Stacey Brodak said the company believes DEP will fairly evaluate the project."We support the role of the DEP to regulate the emissions at our facilities, including asking for and receiving public comments. We trust in the DEP's ability to evaluate those comments and place them in the appropriate context," she told the newspaper. Chesapeake began drilling the well site in 2011.
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