Task force looks at Marcellus emergency response needs

RIDGWAY - At Monday's meeting of the Elk County Gas Task Force held at the new 911 Center in Ridgway, McKean County Emergency Management Agency Director Bruce Manning gave task force members an update of efforts to educate first responders about natural gas and oil sites. Manning, who is also an adjunct instructor for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy, said the Office of the State Fire Commissioner is working to educate emergency responders and others about the Marcellus Shale industry, what type of hazards may be found at drilling sites and how they can more effectively deal with situations that could occur as the industry continues to grow. Some programs already exist, and Manning said the office will receive $750,000 from the impact fee money collected through the state's new natural gas law to continue its education efforts. He said one class that has been offered for about two years is an awareness course that talks about what the Marcellus Shale is, how drilling takes place, site preparation, and the dangers and risks involved in the process.