Friday, April 22, 2011

Fracking Well Blowout in Bradford County

Watch the video of WNEP Channel 16 coverage of the blowout 

Posted by: Noël Jones

As we pass the one year anniversary of the BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf, in which a blowout preventer failed and caused one of the greatest environmental disasters our country has ever seen, devastating the Gulf Coast fishing and tourism industries, the bad news on fracking for natural gas continues to roll in daily in our state--most recently a natural gas well blowout in Bradford County, PA just two hours and 47 minutes northwest of Easton (here's a map to show you how close they are). Toxic fracking fluid from the well spewed into the air, over farmers field and livestock and into the local Tiwanda Creek. Homes in the area were evacuated as Chesapeake Energy tried to get the well under control. You can watch the video above, or click here to read the Huffington Post article on the incident.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) is contemplating whether to allow tens of thousands of these wells to be drilled in the next ten years along the Delaware watershed, our drinking water source, starting this summer. The State of New York has not only declared a moratorium on all fracking until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can complete their study on cumulative health risks associated with fracking (due to be completed next year) but has now threatened to sue the DRBC, as they appear to be moving forward on granting to drilling permits in PA (which would pollute the same river that provides drinking water to New Yorkers, just from the other side).

Please do not let up on this issue. Make a personal commitment to call an elected official or send an email each week until our officials get the message that we are not okay with having our drinking water destroyed, whether its so gas companies can get rich, or so the state can make a severance tax on the gas companies to plug budget holes. We need a moratorium on drilling in PA like the one they have in NY--please use the links on the right side bar of this home page to contact our local officials and express your concerns!


noel jones said...

Check out this youtube video of Johnny Cash singing "Don't Go Near the Water" with images from the BP Oil disaster...I had never heard this song before:

Dennis R. Lieb said...

It seems like the rhetoric used by the gas company reps in this piece indicate that they think we are a bunch of idiots. We are to believe that within hours of this contamination occuring they have assessed the situation fully and determined no damage has been done.

How the hell do they know? They hadn't even been able to get the well head under control at the time they did the interview.

It seems to me that the direction we are heading - just a short period into the drilling era - is that we will be conditioned to expect (and accept) an "accident" every few weeks or few days and then accept the PR line that everything is fine.

When accidents are defined by those causing them, the whole dynamic changes. These are not accidents; they are acceptable externalities of doing business that can then be easily fobbed off on the public. The state will not collect a severance tax but I'm sure that won't stop the corporations from taking tax write-offs for the clean-up costs of these events (just as BP has done for their responsibilities in the G.O.M.).

Pa. citizens will never see any long-term benefit from gas drilling. Sheep led to slaughter.


noel jones said...


It seems that the masters of politics and media have come to realize the power of denial and wishful thinking, and are maximizing their ability to tell people what they want to believe--that everything's great, and everything will be all right--you are right--anyone nodding their heads and accepting that rhetoric is a lamb to the slaughter--a lamb getting petted and cooed at right up to the moment he gets his pretty white head chopped off.

Are we sheep, or are we people? Do we exercise reason and critical thinking or just bleat and do what we're told because it's easier than to believe that we have to actually DO something?

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Wait--maybe a sports metaphor will break through to people--here goes:

We are on a football field with a full but lazy team of players, with bench after bench in reserve, each absorbed in his own texting conversation on his smartphone. We are up against a team that only has a few players, but they are gigantic. And the gigantic players are saying, "sssh....everybody, no cause for alarm, just keep doing what you're doing, everything will be ok, we promise we won't trample you." If they win, they get $500 billion dollars, our football field and our houses, we all get very sick and have to buy bottled water for the rest of our lives. If we win, we get to keep our football field and our houses and not get sick (no billions, sorry). The idea of rushing these guys is clearly not attractive because it will be really hard and we may get hurt in the process. Our only hope of winning is if we all rush them at once--strength in numbers. So what are we going to do? Ignore them? Pretend they aren't there and won't make waffles of us with their cleats? Pretend that they really care about us and aren't really after those billions? Come on!

David Caines said...

Of course they think we are idiots (as a people) and so far, they've been right.
Like it or not, they are getting away with pretty much everything they wish and so far it's all legal.
On the bright side protest weather is finally here so maybe some kind folks will take it into their minds to start actively protesting these sites.

noel jones said...

David, good point on the weather!

Steve White said...

This rush to exploit natural gas simply doesn't make sense. It is both risky and wasteful. As the technology improves we will be able to get this gas more efficiently and more safely and, as time passes, the gas will be more valuable as other sources of fossil fuels are depleted. We may also get a reasonable severance tax eventually which will help pay for damage done by drilling. There is no reason to rush into it when there are so many questions.

noel jones said...

This from the Sun Gazette:

Families blast gas exploration

April 23, 2011

By CHERYL R. CLARKE - Williamsport Sun-Gazette

TOWANDA - Just a few days after a Chesapeake natural gas drilling site flowback fluid spill contaminated pasture land and spilled into Towanda Creek here, Attorney Todd O'Malley led a group of about four dozen protesters, many of them who have had their water spoiled - they say by natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale - in a protest across the street from Chesapeake's headquarters here Friday.

Amid shouts of "save our water," and "stop the drilling" as natural gas drilling trucks and heavy traffic rushed by on Fox Chase Drive, O'Malley, a workman's compensation and work safety attorney with offices here and in Scranton, said he was representing three families on Paradise Road in arbitration between the families against Chief, Cabot and Chesapeake, and "a number of other federal lawsuits."

O'Malley said he was not the only attorney involved in similar suits, which he said probably number in the hundreds.

"I have personally spoken to about 30 families, some on Leroy Mountain Road, but there are other law firms representing others and a greater number are not represented," he said.

O'Malley said though some of his clients have leased with drilling companies, they said they did it because they were "told by the companies that the land was needed because it would help them remove our dependence on foreign oil," he said.

O'Malley said to a number of reporters and television news people that he hoped to write a letter to the state's legislators and Gov. Tom Corbett and to deliver bottles of allegedly contaminated water from the private wells of affected landowners so "they can see what these people have to live with every day."

One of the residents impacted spoke directly with the Sun-Gazette.

Crystal Stroud, 29, a hair stylist from Granville Summit, said her water started turning white and emitting vapors about a month ago, but she continued to drink it because she "was under the impression you didn't have to worry about your water until they started fracking."

A drilling site had been erected just before she noticed the change in the water, and she decided to have it tested by a laboratory.

noel jones said...


Stroud said she was the only one in her household that was drinking the water, filtered from her refrigerator, but she and her four year old son and husband were bathing in it and she used it for all other household chores, washing dishes and clothing.

Stroud said she finally went to a doctor after she became so ill her hair started falling out and she was unable to perform her job because her muscles were weak and she was experiencing severe tremors in her hands. She also experienced a racing heart, high blood pressure and stomach cramps.

The water test revealed high doses of lead, strontium, barium, arsenic, radium and other chemicals, she said, and she immediately stopped drinking the water, but the damage had been done.

She broke down as she described the results of a blood test her doctors ordered last week, it was found to contain high levels of barium, which can cause heart and liver damage, as well as the other symptoms she experienced.

She said she is extremely concerned especially about the high levels of lead in the water and how it could affect her child's brain and internal organs.

Though she is feeling better since she stopped drinking the water, her barium levels remain high, at 110 as opposed to 0-10, considered normal, and she is trying to flush the poison from her system by drinking bottled water and taking potassium to replace what the barium has leached from her system, she said.

The family is still living in their home, using water supplied by Crystal's father, who purchased a water buffalo to replace their well water.

She has not heard from Chief Oil and Gas, who own the drilling rig and site, but she is in contact with DEP, she said, who are working with the family and investigating their claim.

Department of Environmental spokeswoman Katy Gresh said "DEP is committed to overseeing this growing industry in an environmentally and economically conscious manner. The agency's strong stance on enforcement reflects that commitment."

Chesapeake media relations coordinator Rory Sweeney said the company declined to comment on the protest, and there was no response from Chief to phone calls placed earlier this week.