A woman named Kirsi Jansa has been doing a series of short documentaries about all aspects and sides of drilling. We spent a lot of time together to get these 15 minutes. I value her integrity, immensely.
I hope that you help us, and help her work, by sharing it with your friends and family. There are many more shorts on the Gas Rush Stories page.
I suggest the Pilot episode and the compressor station story with Pam Judy to get started.
Ordinary worries pale in comparison to the possibility that turning on your kitchen stove could cause a flash fire. Yet another family has joined the ranks of hundreds of families severely impacted by unconventional gas drilling, from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to many communities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Texas, and elsewhere.
Tammy Manning is coming to Philadelphia this Thursday, September 20th, to share some of the hardships her family has been through due to shale gas drilling. She will speak both at the press conference and from the main stage at the Shale Gas Outrage rally (12 noon, Arch and 13th). The crowd will have to quiet down to hear her voice and possibly the even softer voice of her granddaughter, Madison, now age 6. Madison experienced vomiting while the family’s water and air was impacted by fracking, until their well water was disconnected and a “water buffalo,” a tank that holds fresh clean water, was installed.
Their home, in Susquehanna County, PA, still has a water buffalo, unlike some in impacted communities in Pennsylvania, such as the Woodlands community in Butler Coumty, who live desperate lives after their water buffaloes are removed.
Tammy told us,
Our family has had contaminated water since December of 2011. I not only represent my family, but others in our community also. There are currently 3 homes in our area that have water buffaloes and 4 with vented wells due to high levels of methane and heavy metals.
We bought our home in November of 2010 and l had lived there a for a little over one year when the problems began. All of a sudden our water turned dark grey and then we noticed that it was actually erupting from the well head with a lot of force. You would hear it begin to hiss and then the water would spray out three to four feet in a circle around the well. We were instructed by the township to call the gas company that was drilling and fracking in our area.
A man from the company came and said he was not sure what was going on. He sent the DEP and a man from another company to our home to do testing…
The second company they had sent to our home was to test the air quality inside the home. He told us, as his methane detector was sounding off, that the levels were so high that we should not use the kitchen stove, as it could start a flash fire, and we should leave the bathroom window and door open and fan going during showers, as methane could build up and cause an explosion risk. He also told us the utility companies and fire department would have to be notified of our levels.
I asked him if we could continue living in our home. He said it was not for him to decide.
We were concerned that our well might explode and it is very close to the house. So to keep the pressure from building up, we ran the water constantly. Our granddaughter’s bedroom is above the kitchen and she began vomiting in the morning when she first woke up. She wasn’t running a fever and after vomiting she was fine. We thought she was just waking up hungry so we left crackers on her night stand.
By March our methane levels had nearly doubled. The DEP asked the gas company to vent our well and give us a water buffalo and disconnect our well entirely. Once the well was disconnected, our granddaughter was fine.
The Friday before our well was vented the DEP tested the free gas coming our of our well and said it was 82% methane coming out. I was quite concerned.
Also, besides the methane, we had carbon monoxide coming our of faucet. Our water tests also showed very high unnatural levels of some dangerous heavy metals. We bought camp showers for bathing our grandchildren as we were advised that the metals can pose serious health problems and can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled, not just ingested.
The closest well to us is 4000 feet away. Is a gas lease more important to people than clean water, fresh air, and uncontaminated food? Please open your eyes!! We are destroying the precious resources that God has provided us with to sustain life. Mother earth is suffering. How can she take care of us if we do not take care of her?
Tammy has more to say than these excerpts. Please come hear her, and other impacted people, this Thursday at noon in Philadelphia! She’ll join scientist Dr. Sandra Steingraber, climate activist and science journalist Bill McKibben; Josh Fox, director of Gasland; farmers Carol French (Bradford County, PA) and Stephen Cleghorn (Jefferson County, PA); the Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum, and more. Bethany Yarrow, singer/songwriter and daughter of Peter Yarrow, along with Bonnie Rait’s guitarist Freebo, will lift our spirits. Please show your support at Shale Gas Outrage: 12 noon – 2 pm, Arch Street between 13th and Broad, outside Philadelphia’s Convention Center, followed by a march.
The Interfaith Blessing of the Waters and Air, 5 – 6:30 pm this Thursday, Sept. 20th at Arch Street United Methodist Church, will pour love and support upon impacted people, activists, and all concerned about these impacts to our air, water, climate, communities, and lives.
This Friday, a Sunrise Intervention will allow people another chance to express their opposition to fracking’s destructiveness. A Nonviolence Training is being held at Friends Center (1501 Cherry Street) in Philadelphia, 6 – 9 pm Wednesday evening September 19th, in preparation.
Finally, two conferences, including the Morning Symposium on Health Impacts from shale gas drilling, a screening of three short films by Kirsi Jansa, and afternoon organizing conferences, are held in Philadelphia this Friday, September 21st. The complete schedule of events is here.
Headley Family Photo credit: Stephanie Strasberg
“It’s already too late for us.” That is what Linda Headley said to me, the last time I saw her. I looked around and saw her beautiful family and once beautiful landscape and realized that she was right. There was little to nothing that could be done to change their situation, other than getting the DEP to do the job it should have but hadn’t done. Shining the light of media on the situation should help with that.
It is what Linda said after that inspired me to share their struggle, publicly. She said, “But if we can help other people not make the same mistakes that we did, then that is what we want to do. I bet there are a lot of other people out there like us, that are or were afraid to speak out. Now, we just want people to know the truth.”
Well, that is something that I CAN do and do well: get the truth out. SO, SHARE AND SHARE WIDELY FOR THE HEADLEYS SAKE!
Seven years ago the Headleys bought their dream property. They intended to live and work the land, in semi retirement, to leave a legacy for their sons. Now this is their story. So, where is their Range Resource commercial? Cue corny, folksy music, read and watch.
Our names are David & Linda Headley. We have been residents of Fayette County for 28 years. We have owned our current residence for seven years. Since then, the natural gas industry has stolen our land, polluted our streams, polluted our air, made our family and animals ill, and disrupted our our peaceful way of life.
Our rural community in Springhill township before the natural gas boom invaded was quiet, serene, safe, picturesque small town America, situated along the Monongahela and Cheat rivers, nestled in the foothills of the glorious Allegheny mountains. Life here was quiet. This was a beautiful place to live and raise our family, far from the bustle of the city, rich with country charm and character. That was before the drilling.
We first noticed the gas activity when bulldozers invaded our hayfields to build access roads to wellpads. It began only about 6 weeks after we signed on the land, having bought it with the mineral rights, but without the oil and gas rights. Since coal mining was the issue around here and there had been little to no gas activity left in the area, we were made not to worry about the potential for development, and moved ahead with plans to build our dream home. This was before anyone knew the name Marcellus. Yet, in 7 years time the man who owns the rights has put 4 shallow wells, one Marcellus well, and a pipeline across the property. We had no idea they could do this to us or the land.
The truck traffic is constant. Land damages were of course immediate. Trucks, noise, dust, nomadic workers followed. Then came the polluting of our air and water, then deforestation and the destruction of fruit trees. They even managed to burn 10 acres of ground with a brush fire set with used motor oil from a bulldozer’s oil change ! Every hour, once an hour it sounds like a landing jet visits our once quiet farm as wells ” sell “.
Then come the transmission pipelines – - -more nomadic workers and thousands of gallons of drilling chemicals in our beautiful, trout – stocked stream! We have even had multiple leaking wells for over a year, ignored by the operators, and now we have a spring 200 ft. from our house which is now so rich with gas it can be set on fire. Sadly, doctor visits have become common place. Our 4 year old son, Adam, has mysterious stomach issues that cripple him with pain; we do not have any answers, yet, but we are worried sick.
And why? All because of an uncaring, dirty industry, driven by greed, selling their souls, leaving our health, environment, and rights behind as waste.
When will this nightmare end ???
Dozens of neighbors and communities in whole have suffered. One next door neighbor’s well was contaminated. They had to get municipal water after the industry denied responsibility. We know of at least 3 families having serious health problems; they have had to seek legal assistance. Increased loads on rural roads have lead to numerous accidents / incidents. Crime in area has increased.
Our experience with our local and state officials and the DEP has been mostly not caring, not responding, or denial. Those who do care usually express feelings of helplessness or frustration. Most say the industry lobbying and money is hard to fight against. Others admit that they are now called the DEP for Don’t Expect Protection and there in lies the truth.
Our once peaceful existence has forever changed. This industry is a loose canon; get a handle on it. Add layers of protection for all our people. Regulate, and hold the industry accountable. Please slow the accelleration of this industry. Safe extraction and concern for the environment is a must ! If we could put a man on the moon 40 years ago, we can find a better, safer, healthier way to fuel our future and our children’s future.
We have many photos, videos, water and soil samples, air samples are pending. Its too late for us. But we are willing to share anything that may help someone else. You can read more about our story and see other photos below:
NEW YOK TIMES STORY
TRIBUNE REVIEW STORY
If you would like to know more about how the Headley’s were removed from their land at gun point based on trumped up charges, or for an in depth tour of the land, the violations, the burning water, the selling of the well, and the story of the dog stuck in the frack pit straight from Linda’s mouth, then WATCH THIS: Click here for “Debunking Truthland” at the Headleys on Vimeo.
Click here to watch THE SKY IS PINK! This is a must for anyone wishing to understand just how we have gotten to where we are and why. Share with everyone you know!
Over the last month I have seen more of the transformed landscape that was once Pennsylvania and is now turned gas fields than I can even understand, or fully explain. I will only attempt a synopsis of the journey. I visited 12 different places that all had unique stories and situations, but had one thing in common: gas development has changed their lives, and not for the better.
I first went to Butler County, then Washington County, Fayette County and all over the Moshannon Forest. My mission was to see, first hand, what living in the gas fields is like for some people and to assist some of these families with independent air testing. I had already met at least 4 families that have lost their water, in Butler alone. I know that there are at least 12. Their situation is still dire, still haphazard. Although, many kind citizens have helped to collect and deliver water to these families, a solution has yet to be found and help from the state is rather non-existent. If anyone would like to make a donation to this water drive, please contact me directly- email@example.com, and I can make that happen.
On this day I ran into my favorite little girl, Skylar, who was enjoying a sponge bath on the porch in the warm sun. They are leaving. They are cutting their losses and getting the heck out and resuming a normal life, free of fear of further harm, for themselves and Skylar. I was so happy to hear that, but outraged that it had come to this for them. Leave the home and save your family, another family forced to live like refugees, here in PA. While we were there, black water ran out of her faucet in the bathroom and then dried back up as she worked to collect whatever water came out so that they could put it in a gallon container to use to flush the toilet.
This is how they live; this has been their life for too long.
Not everyone in that area can do what they are doing. Moving is not always an option, not everyone can afford that loss. Too many families outright own the property, have everything in their life invested in it and have no means to start over, adding on a new mortgage payment or rent. The land they dreamed of working is now a constant nightmare for them.
I also met a dog this time around, Sam, who lived with another family that has lost their water. He has since had to be put down, less than a week after I patted his head and told him I was sorry that this was allowed to happen to him. It was heartbreaking. He reminded me so much of my best friend, and sadly, his owners feared that he had continued to drink out of a spring, nearby that may no longer have been potable. His nose and face was inflamed and infected and he seemed like he was in a lot of pain. To be honest, I have never seen anything quite like it. If it was cancer, it was one of the most unusual cancers I have ever seen. I left there sad beyond belief and sick to my stomach. He was a very good old boy, and family that has already lost so much had to put him down, without any answers and with fear in their hearts.
Next, I saw a frack pond full of toxic waste and a drill site right next to newly tilled land that will grow food. I saw the homes of many, who once enjoyed a serene lifestyle, filled with fields and crickets that now live downwind of toxic dumps and have no choice but to wonder just what is in that air that they are now forced to breathe. All day I thought: do you know where your food is coming from? Well, you should. We must demand frack free food and frack free farming, or this will be part of the food chain for Pennsylvanians in the future. Your vegetables could be fortified with barium and radiation. Local now may mean tilled with toxins and carcinogens. Not even organic farms are safe, as many of those farmers have leased as well. Do your homework people. You are what you eat.
The next day, I met a woman who was afraid to go out on her porch and her friends were afraid to visit and sit outside, like they always have, because the fumes in the evening envelop them. We had to encourage her to stay inside, and sadly, no one would want to buy this property now, and anyway, she, in her 70′s, lives alone, and is in no shape to go. These are now her golden years.
I saw property value after property value slashed as shiny new compressor stations roar and spit and spew god knows what across from nicely manicured lawns and dream homes. I pulled up to the gate of one of these compressor stations, one that only seems to be getting bigger and bigger, and my companion told me to roll down the window. I got my first big gulp of air that is created there, and the only words that came out were “OH MY GOD!” and I quickly wound the window back up and immediately wanted to leave. It was disgusting to smell, let alone breathe.
My friend said that he should have taped the moment, just to capture the expression on my face. Well, imagine that combination of shock, horror and fear. That is what my face looked like. The days we spent in Gaslandistan, I developed this strange scratch in my throat. A constant clearing of a tickle that never let up, until some time had passed and I was no longer breathing that air. It made me think that I needed to bring a respirator next time, and yet somehow, our neighbors have to breathe this 24/7.
I am sure it was coincidental, it’s just anecdotal evidence, just like every other persons’ complaints to the DEP, and the EPA, and to local government agencies. Sure, you didn’t ever have these problems before drilling came to an area near you. Sure, your story and symptoms are similar to hundreds of others across the state, but we have the power and we can assure you that this onslaught of bad water and wretched air is coincidental, or all in your mind, and since nothing can ever be definitively proven, the burden continues to fall on the victims to prove the unprovable. Drillers just continue on with business as usual; they do not have to prove it is safe.
Why? All these families ask for and want is a life free of harm.
I went to see a family whose story I know well and to meet some of their neighbors that have had similar symptoms and experiences. They fear for their safety, all the time. The stress is so thick, you can see it in their eyes. As hope diminishes, the eyes change. I saw that again and again when I had to sit in the chemo ward. Post traumatic stress is no joke. Anger and depression oozes from their pores. These families are surrounded. Compressor engines everywhere. Their small country road now faces truck traffic and accidents that seem impossible. The story is the same. The industry owns everything and everyone in these parts. People that are suffering are just crazy or envious. Even the local radio station is now run by industry hacks. Neighbors that have known each other for generations are turning their backs on each other and on the suffering and reality for those that are in harm’s way.
Yes there are many that will continue to sing the praises of Marcellus Shale, but there are also many landowners that were bamboozled. They have realized too late that they were misled. Or, now they see what their profit has cost their neighbor. They are surrounded by pipelines, industrial construction, toxic ponds, un-breathable air, dangerous trucks and traffic that can kill. This is their story. This is their Range Resources commercial. Sadly, this is the commercial everyone should see, but never will, and so the corporate takeover of our state continues.
(Sorry for the terrible quality of film. I wasn’t trying to film, I was just protecting myself with my phone rolling just in case any industry security folk showed up. Their stories need to be told.)
The following week, HOPE made a comeback. I saw a farmer and a philosopher stand for his love and his land. I stood with him and 50 others in his stated rebellion on top of a hill, overlooking his goats and his farm. The beauty that I have always known as Pennsylvania- its rolling hills with wildflowers, dotted with farms, barns, and little white houses- not well pads and drill rigs and clear cut land.
I am proud to call him a friend. We spent 2 glorious days in Paradise with 90 happy goats, chickens roaming freely, and a pack of dogs in what really must be dog heaven, and yet outside of the bubble of the farm the development and devastation was everywhere apparent.
My boyfriend that has actively followed and stood with me in this fight was forever changed on this trip. I watched it happen. It made me realize that this is why I have such a hard time, here in Allegheny County. I can tell you this is coming to a neighborhood near you, but until you see it, until you see well pad after well pad and truck after truck and smell the smells that your brain tells you to run from, it just doesn’t fully sink it. By the time you see the first rig, it’s too late. The gravity of the situation only comes when the first hand experience is encountered. It is what Calvin Tillman says again and again, “Once you know, you can’t not know.”
It is not until you hear a story from a woman that explains what it was like when she had no water, and no one cared, and how her dog died later that winter from licking the salty frack fluid from his paws, that you know. You see the truth in her eyes. She takes you to the site up the road, the one that poisoned her water, where you clearly see the toxic waste buried and imagine what harm all of this has done and what it will continue to do. Her orchards hang in the balance. Her obvious love for her land, animals, orchards and her family is only bested by her fear for their health and their future and her justified anger at what has already been done. Understandably so.
I saw a forest destroyed. Now, an industrial wasteland now where trees and animals once lived. No trespassing signs everywhere. Nature violated at every turn. A pipeline runs here, and there and there. Well pad after well pad after well pad. A compressor station, another compressor station. Toxic waste buried, bad air, fouled water….more of the same, just in a different corner of the state. The land is forever scarred. It was, again, terribly depressing and completely overwhelming.
We saw this type of clearing and industry 20x over in a 2 mile radius of the Moshannon Forest.
But remarkably, in this broken forest, we also found strength in the form of standing up and fighting back. The beginnings of a rebellion. A man who spread the ashes of his wife in defiance on a hill and stated that no drill would ever permeate this land. A woman that stood up for her land and her family, and stopped a frack pond from being built across the road from her house, and now, she is winning. A group that provides independent testing to people that have no hope of help from the state. You see, the tide is turning and its the grassroots, boots on the ground that is making that happen. We will win the PR battle with truth and we will challenge and dismiss the politicians that only serve the industry. This will not happen quickly, there are many more battles and rebellions to wage, but I know, in time, that we will win this war.
HOPE’S 2 SISTERS, ANGER AND COURAGE: Stephen Cleghorn scattering his wifes ashes. TV NEWS
Please read the above story. It isn’t very long, but it hits the nail on the head.
As someone that tried actively to engage in the shill known as Gov. Corbett’s Marcellus Shale Commission, I can say that there was no one from the realm of Public Health on board, but there were plenty of oil and gas execs. Many that had contributed to the newly appointed Governor had a seat at the advisory board table.
You may remember my shining moment with speaking truth to power. This was actually outside of one of those meetings.
The public’s voice has been muted by the leaders we elect when it comes to the future of our state and this rush to drill. Our politicians want to see us turned into Texas, where rigs and homes live in harmony and the Oil and Gas industry call all of the shots in the capital.
We are subjected to the same old story about jobs in exchange for our resources, and the polluting of our land to the detriment of our health. These trumped up jobs even justifiy their contributions and kickbacks from the almighty Gas Industry and since one hand washes the other, the industry now gets to write Pennsylvania’s law behind closed doors with their good buddies.
If our government allowed public discourse, had panels and hearings on public health, if the DEP attended these meetings instead of being keynote speakers at industry functions, and if they actually addressed the real science, concerns and dangers associated with fracking, then maybe the people could have one iota of faith in their competency. Their job as public servants should be to put our safety above the profit of a bunch of multinational billionaires. This is no longer the case in PA. They continue to lie and repeat industry propaganda that is wholly untrue and say that there have been no cases of contamination.
As an activist, I have personally met over 20 different families that have been terribly affected by the contamination of their wells and air and it is disgraceful that we allow the DEP to do next to nothing to help or even acknowledge publicly the type of consistent problems that have sprung up across the state: patches of destroyed water wells, dead animals, sick and angry neighbors, and a government that does little to correct it.
Below is the kind of spin that our politicians use daily. Here is a letter to the editor from Senator Mary Jo White about how lucky we are to have such a wonderful new law. Although the state argued to the feds that PA knows what’s best for PA, we at the local level are not capable of determining what is best for our communities and people like Mary Jo White are here to remind us why.
There are 12 families in Butler County that developed problems after drilling occurred in their community, that still are without water. If only Mary Jo White took the same amount of time helping those families get safe water to drink as she did writing that letter to the editor, then more of us would believe that they are working for us and not for them. I think Mary Jo should sign up for a Marcellus Shale Reality tour before she can sing the praises of our new law.
Our reality is that our communities are no longer able to decide just where or to what extent this industry can transform the corridors and neighborhoods that once were our own to determine. We are told that we should just shut up, stop fighting back and be grateful. The state knows what is best for your community: drilling. Doctors signing non disclosure agreements with the corporations that possibly poisoned their children is something we should applaud. This is progress. We should say thank you to our legislators for getting the lowest tax rate in the nation (in the form of an impact fee) for the taking of our natural resources and the fouling of our land, air, water and ultimately our health. Act 13 is a marvelous piece of legislation! Just ask the industry that wrote it and the political pawns that push it. But ask anyone that has had to go toe to toe with this industry when real harm has occurred, those the law should be designed to protect and they’ll tell you that this is not democracy, it is a disgrace.
HEY FRIENDS! Take a half an hour out of your busy life and VOTE today!!!! We have to take back our state from the drillers and the shiller and voting them out is how. So go vote people of the Marcellus!!!! Visit Marcellus at the Polls and find the reps that will put you and your family’s health and safety first!! There are many write in candidates that could use some support. Below is a list of candidates that are fracktivist friendly!! PRINT IT. TAKE IT WITH YOU. PASS IT ON!
Yesterday the judge ruled that the industry and lawmakers that wrote ACT 13, on the backs of Pa citizens, cannot participate in the lawsuit to defend what their intentions were when writing the law.
I have followed this law very closely, even how it was put together in Harrisburg and by whom (industry not lawmakers) and I can tell you that their intention was to make the people think that getting a measly impact fee was good enough to offset giving the industry free reign to do with our state as they please. They will drill everywhere before any other commonsense regulations are in place to protect our health and environment. This law allows the industry to just take the money and run, leaving a toxic wasteland behind that the taxpayers will be responsible to pay for. By then, Corbett, Scarnati and their cronies will no longer care about the fallout from this because they will be working for the industry that paid them to betray their own constituents. That is how this goes.
I dare say, it seems as though we have a judge that is using law and precedent to rule and has not been bought by industry or bullied by our state that obviously is. Now we need citizens across the state to ask their local politicians and councils to support this lawsuit! Tell them that we should have the right to put our health and safety and that of our children first, after all, that is what zoning is all about. The state does not have the right to say one size fits all when it will affect your community’s health and property values and allow industrial activity like this in what was once residential areas.
WHY DOES THIS MATTER? WE ARE FIGHTING TO KEEP TOXIC WASTE PONDS, DRILLING RIGS, COMPRESSOR STATIONS, AND ACCIDENTS LIKE THIS AWAY FROM YOUR HOMES, YOUR SCHOOLS AND OUT OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOODS..
(I apologize for the music in that video, but just look at the scale of this rig fire and then decide if 500 ft from your home is sufficient.)
I will have a sample letter posted above in the ACT 13 page in the next few days that you can use to encourage your reps to take a stand for your rights. The Allegheny County Council and the Pittsburgh City Council have both issued statements of support. This kind of support can really bolster this case. They do not need anyone else to sign on the suit, just statements of support for the plaintiffs’ stance and the community’s right to determine what is best within its borders. This is the most important case facing our state (according to the Judge) and our future as Pennsylvanians.
Please urge your local grassroots organizations to educate the public about this and keep it going in the papers by writing letters to your editors and commenting on pieces like the one below.
The industry NOW wants to intervene with the court ordered injunction when the suit exists because the industry has already intervened to the point of taking over our government, putting their profits before all of our basic rights. They act like they own the state….Oh wait, I forgot they do. Welcome to Gaslandistan!