First Person Report from PA

This is from an email sent to me by a friend in Sullivan Co, PA. She has given me permission to post it her. Sullivan Co sits at Bradford Co’s souther border. My friend lives near Dushore which is right near the border and works in Towanda. She did not lease her 5 acres but her neighbor did. Drilling began there last fall and shortly thereafter, methane showed up in my friend’s water. Fracking has not begun yet.

Here is her email:

Sorry about taking so long to get back to you.

My class that does all the talking is only 6 students. One of them is the wife of a man who supervises the well completion– which is what we’re told went wrong at Canton – the well head. (personally I suspect that they ran into a vein of gas that was much stronger than the well cap could handle but they’re not going to say this to the public. That’s the only reason I can see that they would stop all “wellhead completion actions” until they figured out what went wrong. As far as I know, they haven’t returned to the “well head” completions yet). She’s the one that told us they were stuffing paper products from the local minimart down the wellhead to get the gusher to slow down — thus my tweak that they didn’t have a back up plan for such a situation. And I wonder if they have any back up plans at all? She also said that her spouse has worked for years with the drilling going on in Texas and was transferred up to PA because of his know-how; however, he can’t move up the supervisory ladder because he doesn’t have a degree! Instead he is working under some newcomer who has a degree in HISTORY (!) that they hired as supervisor and her spouse is training him. She also said that most of the rig workers don’t know what they’re doing and are guessing at how to go about the drilling. One well, she said, was put in backwards – as in the hole was to grow smaller as it went deeper but they were drilling so it widened instead. Nice, huh. She said men are being injured all the time at the well sites because it is such physically demanding work. She also said that she has 3 children and her spouse insists that they use only bought water! She has the most to tell but I’m guessing that her spouse won’t allow her to talk publicly. I was surprised she shared this much.

Another student (an older man who is retraining since his company closed down) said that in his area where there’s lots of wells going in, he & his friends (hunters who have lived there for all their lives) noticed that there was absolutely no wildlife around last fall. He said at some point, he could hear an audible grrrrrr that felt like the sound of an earthquake deep in the ground under his house. We figured the animals felt that too and took to higher ground. (this is part of my theory about my pond fish dying from the impact of the drilling sounds within the ground – we’re talking 24/7 for at least 6 weeks for just one drilling session – there’s no escape from it while it’s happening and the sounds go right through the walls of your home. I live 2000 feet away from the drilling & there’s a woods between us and the pad yet our house resounded with the sounds for the entire time even with the windows closed.)This is no small production as they’d like you to believe. It’s the greed of military-like industry backed by outlandish amounts of money.

A student from fall semester scared me (another older man) by saying that when they frack near your home, the house will shake from the explosions so strongly that things will fall off the walls.

One girl mentioned that she had been stalked by a Mexican who figured out that she was the last one to close up at her job in the evening — she quit her job.

Another one said that they were building “man camps” near her (Sayre area) just to house the workers who will be coming. I don’t think they’ve even seriously begun yet and the rains are slowing them down for which I’m grateful. She also said that her home is surrounded by drilling pads and lately she’s noticed that their water smells – which she’s never noticed before. She was getting pretty scared about it. There are already people in Wyalusing with class action suits because their water has been destroyed.

I’m noting that as they re-create the roads around here so that it can handle the impending increase in truck traffic (I can now hear the trucks on 87 which I could never hear before), they are building them up so high that the shoulders are incredibly steep. One swerve to get away from an oncoming truck (& these trucks are driven by newly licensed CDL drivers which they are churning out like flies on shit), and my car will be irreparably damaged – if not rolled over – because the inclines are so steep and the sides of our mountain roads are all about steep hills (and curves). I’ve never been cautious of the sides of the roads before and now, even having the road to myself, I’m hypervigilant. The railings that are in place were sufficient for the minor traffic but there’s no where near enough for the heightened roads, lack of shoulders and steep hillsides. They haven’t even repaired the railing that was taken out last fall when a water truck couldn’t make the S curve and went down over the bank.

My neighbor came home one day and called the police because he and his wife were driving around a serious curve on 87 and witnessed 2 water trucks (these are massively long) driving by them in the opposite direction at breakneck speed which almost tipped over on them! My neighbor has been driving trucks for years (not affiliated with this gas industry), and he knows when they are driving too fast and what they look like when they’re about to tip. He was really seriously pissed.

It’s so disgusting on so many levels, I can only absorb so much at a time. They’re polluting our air and our water, tearing down mountains to erect gas compressor stations (NOISE – coming soon), flattening trees to make way for their 4 acre pads, scattering holding ponds for toxic wastes (?) throughout the back woods (what happens to the wildlife that drinks from them?) — destroying the peace with constant sounds (thunderous rigs, planes & helicopters), chasing the wildlife out of their homes & hitting them on the roads (deer all the time), chewing away at the earth to get gravel for their pads, gashing through the mountains for their pipelines, making driving anywhere a concern for one’s life, destroying the normal roads and constantly we are held up in traffic due to construction. Getting in and out of Towanda (due to the bridge bottleneck) during peak hours is a long wait. Just to get in and out of town yesterday, I had to take back roads all around the light. I imagine once the rains settle down, the gray dust covering the sides of the roads – from the continuous Mac trucks taking gravel to the pads – will be nauseating to view. So much for the by-the-road wildflowers that were so gorgeous to view throughout the season.

Oh, and this too — the influx of newcomers is changing the entire essence of community. Everywhere I go when I’m in Towanda, I’m seeing these tough-looking young guys with tatoos. I’m sure they’re the workers brought here from Texas and other states. They look to me like the type that could do some violence under the influence… oh and there’s drugs coming through with them. Of course. I’ve already seen several young people at public places who looked like they were near death’s door literally. It’s the inner city come to the country.

All this for economic growth? ! Then why are there men near retirement age enrolled at Lackawanna because they lost their jobs and can’t get anything without a freakin degree! And every time I hear someone spout “responsible well drilling” as the answer, I want to throttle them. It doesn’t exist at this pace — no way.

It’s so indescribable that the “natural” gas companies get away with it – singing their songs of wealth – because no one who hasn’t been there can consciously grasp the complete devastation until they are in it. This is why I’m sending out everything that’s happening around here — I really want people to have their eyes open when it sets its sights on your area. I’ve never in my life witnessed something so all-encompassingly evil though I know this kind of selfish consumptive razing been going on all over the world and now it’s literally reached my back yard. It certainly has opened my heart to the pain in our world in ways that I wouldn’t have been able to feel otherwise BUT I’ve always known the world is getting weakened by our doings and that’s exactly why I hid myself in the mountains. Now, I too, like the wildlife, am being pushed out, killed off, and dehumanized. It’s very hard to be joyful about life or to respect us as Americans right now. I have to hold my fire of fierce opposition within me just to get through the days (and distract myself with animal rescue). This is how bad it is now – just a little over a year into this travesty – and they haven’t dug in yet. They’re just getting warmed up! Think about that.

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