Assault to the Senses

Gas Drilling in Dimock, Pa.

Archive for Journal Entries

Sept. 3, 2009

Today Cabot sprayed water up and down Carter Road, as usual. What was different was the truck was boldly labeled, “Fresh water.”

March 4, 2009

I finally heard from the DEP about the results of testing they did of my water and well. I do have methane, but lower in level than some of my neighbors whose wells have exploded, etc. He said he will stop by to check for free methane in the head space of my water well again, now that we have it capped loosely enough to remove. I asked him if the level of methane could increase now that they are fracking the well on the other side of my house, and he said it is possible, with all of the activity going on. He is finding some methane in almost all the wells around here. This seems consistent with the idea that it can migrate for miles through an aquifer. The contaminated wells that I know of in Dimock are in clumps, with apparently ok houses with wells between them. I definitely need to test for bacteria. Today I accidentally drank some water and got violently sick. That’s how it was for the months of December and November last year, for our whole family, which was when they were drilling and fracking the gas well 500 feet from our water well. We stopped drinking the water after our next door neighbor noticed her water smelled strongly of solvents or formaldehyde, and the lady about 5 houses away had her water well explode.

March 5, 2009

Last night, the noise was way over the top from the well that was due for fracking this week. From about 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., the noise level was unbelievable. We were inside our house, which has fairly good windows, and we literally had to shout to hear each other inside. The booming and crashing, what sounded like alarms going off, and loud honking were incredible. I don’t know if they had another equipment malfunction, but we couldn’t sleep. I let my kids sleep in and drove them to school (the bus comes at 6:45) and the other moms bringing kids in at 8:00 or so were all complaining about the noise.

April 9, 2009

“I talked to a family who own a 4 or 5-hundred acre farm in Dimock. Up until recently, their road was not drilled by Cabot, because many of the landowners were suing for higher signing bonuses. Now, there are 30 new wells going in there. The family had an agreement with a farmer who was supposed to hay their fields, and store the hay in their barns, and in return was supposed to provide them with 400 bales a year for their horses. Cabot worked a deal with the farmer to buy hay for spreading on pipelines, at $4 a bale. This amounted to $40,000 for the farmer, who paid the landowner nothing for the hay, and then when the landowner went to pick up the hay for the horses, Cabot called the police and nearly had him arrested for stealing his own hay. Now, Cabot has the barn doors chained and locked, so that the family cannot get into their own barns.”

Dimock in the First Person Sept. 2009

* Dimock, PA, approximately Thursday, 9/3:
A blowout occurs during drilling under a road and wetland for a gas pipeline, resulting in a large spill of drilling mud. Witnesses report a greasy, gray film running down a water body. Local people who hear about the blowout have difficulty getting the straight story, despite persistently asking questions of DEP and drilling company representatives.
* Dimock, PA, Wednesday, 9/16, afternoon:
“At least a thousand” gallons of frack fluid escape from the Heitsman2 well site and run down into Stevens Creek. According to the fracturing subcontractor, Halliburton, the fluid contains carcinogenic substances.
* Dimock, PA, Wednesday, 9/16, late evening:
A much larger spill of the same fluid occurs. Reports say the total volume of both spills the released frack fluids is as much as 8500 gallons.
* Dimock, PA, Tuesday, 9/22
Another spill of the same fluid occurs. This one is of “hundreds of gallons.”

DEP reports fish swimming erratically and kills of small aquatic life.

On 9/22, after the third spill in a week’s time, DEP cites Cabot with 5 violations.

Following DEP’s action, the fish are still dead.

On 9/25, DEP orders Cabot to stop all hydraulic fracturing activities in Susquehanna County.

Reports indicate that, subsequent to DEP’s order, the fish are still dead.

. . . .

Why do regulating agencies pretend that physics pays any attention to regulations?

Why do they pretend that their disciplinary action is effective, when no disciplinary action can reverse the damage once it’s done?

On 9/30, the NYS DEC will issue its draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, the next step in paving the way for New York to enjoy the benefits of industrial-scale gas drilling with horizontal drilling / high-volume hydraulic fracturing in low-permeability gas reservoirs.

The fish in our brooks and rivers are, for the time being, still alive. But it’s only a matter of time and physics – not regulation – before the same fate befalls them.

Sept. 23, 2009

Heard an explosion at 5:10 pm. Also heard about an 8,000 gallon spill at well site near Rt. 29 in Dimock.

Semi-anonymous

Today I received a semi-anonymous letter in the mail, postmarked Erie PA. The writer states that in East Fairfield Township, Crawford County, PA, 4 miles north of Cochranton, Cabot Oil and Gas was drilling in the Medina Strata, 5,000 feet or so deep, for natural gas, in 1980-1985. He said the water wells were polluted like those in Dimock. While drilling, they hit some gas at 900 feet, so they plugged it off. The pressure forced gas and gross liquids into the water table. A dozen or so families were involved. As a group, the families hired lawyers. The case went on for a year or so. Cabot offered $10,000 per family, and the lawyers advised them to take it, so they did. This amount was to be kept secret. Cabot was “not at fault.” The water is still bad. Halliburton did the well fracturing. [I thought this was new technology? PAT] “Haliburton was not of the best moral character.” Cabot sold all to Great Lakes Oil and Gas Co. years ago. It is signed Mike. No return address.