Living in gasland

Living in gasland.

Living in gasland

Glen Spey’s Homestead School visits Dimock

By SANDY LONG

DIMOCK, PA — William Farnelli would like to move to Australia because he’s heard there isn’t any gas drilling there. That’s what the fifth-grader told a student from The Homestead School in Glen Spey, NY who traveled with fellow fourth through sixth graders to Dimock for a firsthand look at what it’s like to live where natural gas exploration is taking place.

The experience appeared to be a sobering one for those who got to glimpse the landscape of rolling hills blanketed in fall foliage and studded with drilling rigs and well pads next to houses and barns. It prompted the question—have you ever thought of moving?—that led to William’s quietly voiced answer.

With his sister Rachel, a third-grader, at his side, the wide-eyed pair and their mother, Pat, described the ways in which drilling activities have changed their lives over the past three years. They live on bottled water to avoid the nausea and cramps that come if they drink their well water. They must purchase what they consume and continue to bathe in their well water while suffering rashes, dizziness and headaches.

The chronic noise of the trucks, which continues through the night, and the constant light make it hard to sleep. And while it would be a relief to slip away to somewhere else, Pat says it’s not likely anyone will want to buy their house.

The community continues to divide, as Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection battle over the proposed solution to install an $11.8 million water main. The decision has prompted the formation of Enough Already, a local group of business and homeowners opposed to the pipeline.

The day began at Julie and Craig Sautner’s home on Carter Road, where students learned how the couple copes with the loss of their water well to contamination that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection traces to nearby drilling operations at Cabot sites.

The group then paid a visit to Congressman Chris Carney’s home approximately a mile away, where they introduced themselves to Mrs. Carney and left one of their Green Power Alliance t-shirts, along with a promise to follow up with letters to the congressman about their experience and concerns.

Continuing along the rural roads, the students observed cleared acreage where well pads, drill rigs and gathering lines are being stitched into the fabric of farmland and neighborhoods. A stop at the local K-12 school revealed a drilling rig rising into the horizon near the school track.

Later, perched on the lawn of a local church, speakers attempted to shout their messages over the chronic grinding drone of heavy trucks hauling excavation materials, residual waste water and tanks filled with clean water for some homeowners.

Before leaving, the Homestead students wanted William and Rachel to know that they’re not alone and gave them each a t-shirt. “Now you can be part of the Green Power Alliance,” they said.

For more information, contact Peter Comstock, head of school and Green Power Alliance advisor at 845/856-6359. Visit riverreporter.blogspot.com to read some responses to the Dimock experience submitted by those on the trip.

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