People's Stories

Shalefield Stories
February 1, 2014

The Environment America Research & Policy Center has compiled a new booklet, Shalefield Stories, the collected testimonies of people who have been harmed in the mad rush to frack in the places we call home.  Samples  include:

  • Marilyn Hunt of Wetzel County, WV, who found toxic chemicals in her water that migrated from a drilling site one mile from her home;
  • Judy Armstrong Stiles of Bradford County, PA, who tells of finding barium and arsenic in her drinking water, and then in her own blood, after Chesapeake began drilling on her land.
  • William Sciscoe, Mayor of Dish, TX, who explains how air quality tests near a compressor station found cancer-causing substances at 400 times the safe exposure level set by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  • June Chappel of Washington County, PA, who has lived with a 15 million gallon fracking waste pit just 200 feet from her house;
  • Jaime Frederick of Coitsville, OH, who discovered barium, strontium, toluene and other contaminants in her water after 25 drilling wells began operating within a mile of her home. She experienced several illnesses and says her property value has been reduced to to “nothing.”

Meet the Pennsylvania residents who say their lives have been ruined by gas drilling
Rolling Stone, February 14, 2013
By Lauren Petracca

Tammy and Matt Manning were excited to own a house for the first time when they moved to Franklin Forks, Pennsylvania in November 2010. Their two daughters, three grandchildren and Tammy’s father also moved in with them. Shortly after the Mannings moved into their home, WPX Energy began drilling for natural gas in their area. One day, their water came out of their faucet grey, not even a year after they became homeowners. Their water was tested positive for high, unsafe levels of arsenic, barium, methane and other dangerous chemicals. Tammy and Matt are convinced this is a result of hydrofracking, a controversial process used to extract natural gas from deep in the ground.

The family could no longer drink or cook with the water and showering in it was a very high risk, although they had no other choice. Once a week Matt would drive across the New York State border to his mother’s house to fill gallon jugs with her tap water, which the family depended on for safe water. High levels of methane filled the air in the house – so much so that they had to stop using their gas stove for risk of explosion and shower with the window open, even in the winter, so that they wouldn’t pass out. They lived like this for months before WPX Energy began delivering water to them once a day. Although they still can’t drink the water, it is safe to cook and shower with. WPX still doesn’t admit to contaminating their water, but say they are just being good neighbors. Despite the family’s situation, most of the community is in favor of fracking, due to the large amount of jobs and money the industry brings to the small community. The town holds public town meetings, where the Mannings are not welcome. They have been verbally harassed in public and tailgated to work by gas workers. The Mannings are currently fighting to end fracking nationwide and to get WPX Energy to take responsibility for the contamination of their water.  Read on for heartbreaking images of their daily life…..

Visiting Pennsylvania’s Destructive Fracking Footprint
Ecowatch, January 2013
By Yoko Ono

[Editor's note: On Jan. 17, Artists Against Fracking co-founders Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon were joined by actor Susan Sarandon, peace leader Arun Gandhi, filmmaker Josh Fox and activists to lead members of the press on a bus tour of fracking sites in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Here's a video featuring the visit and Yoko Ono's reflection on the visit.]

After being invited to visit Pennsylvania by residents who have experienced the impacts of fracking, my son Sean and I decided to go see the harms of fracking up close. Our friend Susan Sarandon came with us, and we had the incredible honor of being joined by Mahatma Ghandi’s grandson, Arun Ghandi, as well. We also invited members of the media.

Driving into the quaint town of Montrose, PA, I could hardly have anticipated how upsetting the next stops on our tour would be: a gas pad of four drills and a hissing pressure release, a giant compressor station under construction, large trucks full of sand and toxic chemicals rumbling down narrow dirt roads, and a drilling rig reaching to the sky.  Full Story

An Oil Boom Takes a Toll on Health Care
New York Times, January 27, 2013

WATFORD CITY, N.D. — The patients come with burns from hot water, with hands and fingers crushed by steel tongs, with injuries from chains that have whipsawed them off their feet. Ambulances carry mangled, bloodied bodies from accidents on roads packed with trucks and heavy-footed drivers.

The furious pace of oil exploration that has made North Dakota one of the healthiest economies in the country has had the opposite effect on the region’s health care providers. Swamped by uninsured laborers flocking to dangerous jobs, medical facilities in the area are sinking under skyrocketing debt, a flood of gruesome injuries and bloated business costs from the inflated economy.     Full Story

Pennsylvania Fracking Victims Come to New York to Share Their Stories
Ecowatch, January 30, 2013

Since fracking began in states outside of New York, there have been numerous reports of water contamination in those states. Studies link fracking-related activities to contaminated groundwater and air pollution, human health issues, and illness, death and reproductive problems in cows, horses and wildlife.

“These stories from Pennsylvania are very alarming,” said Dr. Sheila Bushkin, MD, MPH of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany. “The perspective of the gas industry fails to show adequate concern for the long-term health and quality of life of people. When you listen to the personal experiences of actual residents of Pennsylvania and other states where fracking has gone forward, you will hear stories of dead cows, pets, sick children, poisoned water and other serious health and environmental problems. These stories confirm our need for much greater research and evidence-based scientific facts.”

“My story is not unusual,” said Terry Greenwood, a farmer from Southwestern Pennsylvania. “After my cows drank from a pond that was contaminated by frackwater, 10 of the 19 calves were born stillborn.”
“The industry says there are no problems,” said Matt Manning.  “Well when the industry came to Northeastern PA, our water turned black and started bubbling. Our kids would cough and choke in the shower. It got so bad that the state required the companies to provide us with deliveries of clean water.  But that’s not a long-term solution.”
Full Story

The Mayor’s Story
Shaleshockmedia, January 4, 2013

Calvin Tillman was the mayor of Dish, Texas. The bank in Dish, Texas was one of the first that Bonnie & Clyde robbed. The frackers pretty much finished the job on the town.  Here is the Mayor’s story……..

Letter to the Editor from Chrystal Beadle, Crowley, TX
December, 2012

Peter Hudiburg, Plymouth Friends of Clean Water published a letter to his local paper, The Evening Sun, where he mentioned some of the victims listed by the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air as having suffered from drilling. Through a coincidence, one of the victims Chrystal Beadle saw the letter and was asked to write a second letter explaining their problems with fracking in detail.  Here is her story:

To the Editor:

I recently was sent a letter to the editor from your paper in which my husband was mentioned. The letter was regarding fracking.

Well, if you don’t mind, I would like to tell you a story. My husband and I bought what we thought would be our retirement home. It was 14 acres, up on a hill. Standing on my back porch you could see forever. On the front you could watch the animals and our grandchildren play.

We loved this home!! Then, Brian noticed a well going up behind us. We were not happy about that at all, but then we found out it was going be very loud. I work from home so this was very distracting. Then it was lit up 24/7. Not just any ole lights it was very bright flood lights. We had to move our cattle trailer in front of the windows just to block out the light so we could sleep. I forgot to mention this well was about a football field from our back door.   Full Story…..

Fracking our Food Supply – New Report of Livestock Illnesses
The Nation, December 17, 2012
by Elizabeth Royte

Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota, a windswept, golden-hued landscape in the heart of the Bakken Shale. Schilke’s neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she’s no longer sharing or eating it—not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood.

Cuomo and Corbett Ignore Health Concerns from Gas Fracking
DC Brueau, March 9, 2012
By Peter Mantius

After natural gas drilling began near their rural homes about 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Carol Moten and her neighbors noticed that their well water began to smell. Then came the headaches, skin lesions, and diarrhea, in household after household. A two-year-old dog fell over dead.

“We’re talking about little children that have nosebleeds, cats that fall off windowsills,” she said.

Three years ago, Moten and her neighbor, Donald Allison, visited Dr. Amelia Pare in nearby McMurray for their skin infections. Allison’s health continued to deteriorate and earlier this month he died from what the neighborhood understood to be bone cancer. He was 46.

Since there was no autopsy, Pare said, the exact cause of Allison’s death is unclear. “Does anybody really know?” she said. “There’s no funding for this.”….

Fracking Poses Risk of Cancer Epidemic 
Ithaca Journal, January 20, 2012
By Andi Gladstone
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44, I was shocked. I had no family history and was a non-smoking, non-drinking, jogging vegetarian. I was, however, exposed to environmental toxins during puberty, a period of life that is now designated as a “period of vulnerability” for breast cancer. The introduction of hydrofracking in New York threatens to create more stories like mine…To permit hydrofracking, which opens countless portals of toxic contamination… puts all New Yorkers at greater risk of sitting in a doctor’s office, like I did, and hearing the devastating news that changes one’s life forever.

Gladstone lives in Danby. She was the founding executive director of the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance and is the current executive director of the New York State Breast Cancer Network….

Fracking fury reaches fever pitch in Erie
Residents band together to challenge planned drilling, fracking operation near schools
Daily Camera, January 7, 2012
By John Aguilar
ERIE, CO — “We’re just sick.” Tears accompanied the words that came out of the mouth of April Beach, a mother of three boys who lives in Erie’s Grandview neighborhood. Her family’s symptoms — asthma, dizziness, allergies and migraine headaches — have all appeared in the wake of a natural gas-drilling operation that occurred a couple hundred feet from her home, she said.  Even though it’s difficult to prove, Beach is convinced that the emissions from the drill site and the chemical mix used in hydraulic fracturing — the practice of pumping fluid underground at high pressure to crack rock and release oil and natural gas — are at the root of her family’s illness. “Every single thing we have can be caused by something else, but the reality is we were never sick until we moved to Erie and we were never this sick until after the drilling,” she said. “I know that the air is a problem.” Beach, who has lived in Erie for a decade, has discovered she isn’t alone. Wendy Leonard, a relatively new arrival to Erie who lives across town from Beach, said her family hasn’t felt well for months…..

Fracking:  The Dirty Truth in North Dakota
Bakken Watch hired an independent lab to test the air quality on a remote farm in western North Dakota. The air sample canister was placed outside in the yard. The family says that they are sick, as well as livestock and other animals on the farm. The test reveals chemicals that should not be in the open air in such a remote location. There are many fracking operations in the immediate area of this farm. Viewer discretion is advised….

Cancer Rates in Barnett Shale Climb, Residents Want Answers Why
KDAF.TV – October 18, 2011
FLOWER MOUND, TX— Lorrie Squibb remembers many days when she didn’t feel well, but she didn’t know why.
“I was just sick, month after month,” said the mother of two.

Squibb says two months after she moved from Flower Mound to Michigan in 2010, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that is often associated with factory exposure to toxins in men.

“I am a stay at home Mom so there is no explanation about where I could have contracted this,” Squibb said from her Michigan home.

People still living in the area surrounding Squibb’s old neighborhood in Wellington Estates in Flower Mound are concerned about possible cancer clusters, after a string of leukemia cases in children and breast cancer in women.

Residents wonder if the danger isn’t just down the street, where there is natural gas drilling in the Barnett Shale. State air testing near some natural gas facilities revealed high levels of benzene, a cancer-causing toxin.

“People are getting sick and it doesn’t matter what color they are or their economic situation,” Sharon Wilson, organizer with the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project, said…..

The Trouble With Health Problems Near Gas Fracking
NPR – September 29, 2011
Fresh Air from WHYY
Susan Wallace-Babb lived on a ranch in western Colorado. One summer night in 2005, she drove her truck down the road into a field out past her neighbors. She stepped out of her truck, felt woozy and immediately passed out.

“When she came to, she raced out of the area, called fire department officials and sought help. But it began a period of very intense, negative health effects for her,” says ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten. “By the next morning, she felt intense nerve pain in her legs, intense nausea, and eventually within a couple of days had skin rashes over her body. And her health got progressively worse from that point on.”

Wallace-Babb was told by local deputies that there was a spillover between a pair of fuel storage tanks that sat next to a natural gas well, located less than half a mile away from her car. Initially she wasn’t sure it was related to gas drilling.

“It wasn’t until she began talking with other residents of this part of Colorado and learning that others had similar experiences and talking with doctors who had expertise in gas field exposure [that] she did come to believe that, though it is difficult to prove, that her health problems have been caused by exposure to some sort of chemical in the drilling field,” he says….

Pa. should serve as warning on drilling
Ithaca Journal – September 23, 2011
By Libby Foust
Our family farm is in Bradford County, Pa. Our farm was one of the first well sites chosen and is now one of hundreds, soon to be thousands.

When the folks in Pennsylvania first heard of the wells coming, they were excited. No one had ever experienced the drilling business, so there was nothing to fear. They had toiled their whole lives just to make ends meet, and maybe this was the road to a better life.

Then they came. Trucks by the hundreds, tankers, dump trucks, drilling rigs, fracking rigs. Five-acre drilling pads were bulldozed in the middle of farmers’ best fields, million-gallon ponds were installed, roads were built, woods and fields were trenched and bulldozed for tie lines. Drilling rigs went up at an unbelievable rate. From one spot on our farm, I counted eight rigs….

Health Issues Follow Natural Gas Drilling In Texas
NPR – November 3, 2009
by John Burnett
Vast new natural gas fields have opened up thanks to an advanced drilling technique. While natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or petroleum, extracting it is still hard, dirty work. Some people who live near the massive Barnett Shale gas deposit in north Texas, have complaints. Health and environmental concerns are prompting state regulators to take a closer look.

A boom in natural gas is underway. New gas fields have opened up thanks to an advanced drilling technique. It allows gas to be extracted from underground shale rock formations. Natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than coal or petroleum, though extracting it is still hard, dirty work. And some people who live near some major gas projects are complaining. NPR’s John Burnett has this story from the massive Barnett Shale gas deposit in North Texas.

JOHN BURNETT: To date there are more than 12,000 gas wells in the Barnett Shale. It’s a vast rock formation that underlies 5,000 square miles surrounding Fort Worth. To get the gas to market requires an underground highway of pipelines and compression stations. These big internal combustion engines make noise and spew pollutants into the air day and night. State records show that in the past decade the number of gas compressors in the Barnett has jumped from a few hundred to 1,300, and they’re getting closer and closer to populated areas.

Mayor CALVIN TILMEN (Dish, Texas): My name is Calvin Tillman. I’m the mayor of a small town of Dish, Texas, the home of free Dish Network satellite TV, and it is also known for 11 natural gas compression stations….

Water Worries Threaten U.S. Push for Natural Gas
Reuters – October 1, 2009
By Jon Hurdle
PAVILLION, Wyoming (Reuters) – Louis Meeks, a burly 59-year-old alfalfa farmer, fills a metal trough with water from his well and watches an oily sheen form on the surface which gives off a faint odor of paint.

He points to small bubbles that appear in the water, and a thin ring of foam around the edge.

Meeks is convinced that energy companies drilling for natural gas in this central Wyoming farming community have poisoned his water and ruined his health.

A recent report by the Environmental Protection Agency suggests he just might have a case — and that the multi-billion dollar industry may have a problem on its hands. EPA tests found his well contained what it termed 14 “contaminants of concern.”

It tested 39 wells in the Pavillion area this year, and said in August that 11 were contaminated. The agency did not identify the cause but said gas drilling was a possibility….

US Energy Future Hits Snag in Rural Pennsylvania
Reuters – March 13, 2009
by: Jon Hurdle
A glass of milky brown drinking water from a residential well in Dimock, Pennsylvania, after natural gas drilling operations began nearby.

Dimock, Pennsylvania – When her children started missing school because of persistent diarrhea and vomiting, Pat Farnelli began to wonder if she and her family were suffering from more than just a classroom bug.

After trying several remedies, she stopped using the water drawn from her well in this rural corner of northeastern Pennsylvania, the forefront of a drilling boom in what may be the biggest U.S. reserve of natural gas.

“I was getting excruciating stomach cramps after drinking the water,” Farnelli said in an interview at her farmhouse, cluttered as a home with eight children would be, while her husband, a night cook at a truck stop, slept on the couch….

Based on extensive study and scientific evidence, Catskill Mountainkeeper has called for a ban on fracking. We are also working within the existing regulatory process in New York to raise critical issues, widen the discussion of the impacts of drilling, and expand the options available to protect the public.



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