RETROSPECTIVE (2008 to mid 2011)
Ponderings from Pandora's Box
Chloe Kelly's Journal of Living with Unconventional Gas Drilling
Mid Oct: Some reflections on the growing hazards of road travel and the multiplying blights on the land
The week of October 11th, I had my first glimpse of what I suspect is soon to be a common view – one of the breathtaking, completely forested mountains whose view from the road I’ve enjoyed for years had a massive blot on it – a gas pad. I’m not talking a small, easy-to-overlook spot, I mean a piece of the mountain so large that it stood out like the footprint of some massive giant who had stepped onto the mountainside.
Of course I couldn’t gape for long because I had to return my gaze to the road to be sure I was well over on my side in order to avoid the “oversized”-marked trucks that have become ubiquitous and to also keep an eye on the now minimal shoulders flanked by deep, car-rolling ravines.
Here’s a quote taken from the Oct 19 edition of the Sullivan :
“ As you drive the country roads in Sullivan and other northern tier counties this fall, be aware of farm equipment… and the big rigs hauling natural gas equipment and supplies. A few tips for a safe, heads up tour: 1) don’t rush, take your time, watch your speed; 2) pass with care, being sure there’s enough room; 3) be patient even if the other guy isn’t; … 5) remain visible, drive with your headlights on; 6) farm equipment and big vehicles are often wider than you think.”
It would be nice to think that this is merely a temporary condition but I’m told the gas industry’s doings will continue for at least the next 20 years and more likely 50.
Now when I arrive in Towanda, about a quarter mile before the route 6 bridge, I make what has become a normal long-cut for me to get to work to avoid the congestion at the bridge.
Returning home, I travel another road that gives me a view of yet another gigantic swipe that has laid the side of a mountain bare. A compressor station is planned for this site, and the amount of forested cover that has been lost for just this one station is beyond my ability to grasp without trembling. I feel for the wildlife that has lived there undisturbed for hundreds of years and which is now confused, disoriented and pushed from their homes.
I recently took a “heads up tour” down a back road in Bradford County and noted that what was once untouched meadows set next to summer homes now contained a gas company water impoundment, surrounded by fences, cameras and equipment, into or from which water trucks could disgorge or takeup water. Further down this same road, tucked into the rural background, was a well pad with two producing wells, the processing equipment humming loudly and inconsistently as it worked to separate water from the gas. This too was next to a residence. Gone for these people was the subtle pleasure of wind sounds and bird songs. I couldn’t help wondering whether it would be the same for my family once the wells near us were in production.
Oct 14: My water is tested for the fifth time since 2009
On Friday, Oct. 14th, I spent the morning having my water sampled for testing, the 5th time since 2009. I have recently joined an “oil and gas accountability project” that is sampling our water as part of a public health survey. Thanks to this committed group, I may be able to find out why my gums began swelling this summer when we resumed drinking our well water. I should have the results in a few weeks. In the meantime, lights and noise are once again emanating from the well pad on my neighbor's land. I have to ask myself: what next?
Oct 27: The quiet rural road I've lived on for 20 years is getting a complete makeover
As I write this, there’s a lot of activity along the road that runs past our house, because it is being repaved in order to handle more rig traffic. So for the past two weeks I’ve been serenaded each morning by the surround sounds of road work on-going from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. On October 19th, the road crew broke through a phone line so we were without phone or internet service from Oct. 19th until Oct. 26th. Just one of the many secondary effects of the industry which no one really thinks about.
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