RETROSPECTIVE (2008 to mid 2011)
Ponderings from Pandora's Box
Chloe Kelly's Journal of Living with Unconventional Gas Drilling
May 2: Friends produce visuals of my methane-contaminated water
Greetings from gasland (formerly the Gem of the Endless Mountains).
This week my very wonder-full friends paid me a visit and took a video of what has become my increasingly stress-filled reality since the gas drilling "boom" arrived in our county.
A picture speaks a thousand words. That's my kitchen, my arm, and my water. (photos in right hand column)
The local gas company responded to my situation, after testing my water this March, by emailing me this reassuring tid bit:
Natural changes in water well quality, including dissolved methane concentrations, are attributed to many climatic factors such as seasonal weather patterns, and timing, intensity, duration and return period of precipitation events, all of which can affect recharge to groundwater and groundwater levels. These climatic variations ultimately affect the sources of groundwater recharge to water wells and cause fluctuation in water well chemistry.
I've lived here, drinking my well water, for 20 years. They began drilling their holes thoughout Sullivan County the summer of 2010 and the fall of that same year spurting, fizzing, bubblng, white, and highly flammable water became my reality.
That's nature, they're telling me.
Do I believe it? NOT!
May 17: Time away heightens the sense of invasion and loss
Almost every morning, I read more about the plight of Pennsylvania and the gas invasion.
It's so very insane to me that despite the glaring problems that are arising everywhere the industry shows up, and despite the fact that there is now an oversupply of methane ("with unprecedented amounts of natural gas in storage because of soaring supplies and plummeting prices, industry leaders and their political allies are mounting a major effort to find new uses to work down the glut"), they continue to drill and frack, and we who resist because our lives are at stake are called "radical environmentalists" . Both those quotes come from the new, local paper titled "Northeast Driller" which works hard to enthuse the area's residents with the wonders of being inside a vast, corrupt, manipulative industrial complex. The paper actually invites people to send in photos of the drill rigs against the horizon!
After over 2 years of struggling with tthis invasion-- even with the slowing down due to plummeting natural gas prices, which has made it just tolerable for the moment -- it's still a daily in-our-face presence. When any of us get away from FrackLand, we are amazed at how different it feels to not be surrounded by the noise, ugliness, pollution and stress of living with constant invasion. Those of us stuck inside the gas bubble are losing our grip on natural beauty!
Several days ago we had an exquisite, pristine spring day, but for the massive noise emanating all day long and into the night from the pad near us. I don't know, since it stopped by morning, if they are starting to drill a second well or what is going on there, but the machine resonance swept through everything that is of beauty here and stole the Garden away from all of us.
May 26: I'm getting to know DEP staff on a first-name basis
Yesterday I read an article in the Daily Review "Possible methane gas migration issue investigated in Leroy Twp." It went on to say it was first reported on May 19.
I just loved this quote from one of the affected residents: "Franklin said he feels confident that the issue will be resolved".
I had to bray aloud at that statement. I wish I could be as relaxed about it as Franklin! Maybe he feels the industry did a good job cleaning up the Gulf Oil Spill too.
Down here, I'm getting to know DEP staff on a first name basis. They pop in occasionally to check our well head for gas. I'm told that now there have been several other houses near the pad that are experiencing methane problems. For me, I'm getting used to our water being milk-white all the time but I do wonder how it might be affecting me when I wash dishes and breathe in the methane that's escaping from the water. How it affects me, over time, from bathing in it. Wonder is all I can do, since there are no real studies on this.
I have been so stressed over this for the past 2+ years, it just hangs over us all. To stay or to move; to stay or to move; to stay or to move. I know I'll be moving if it doesn't change course. I keep praying for this all to collapse. It's so very sick, surely we will wake up soon.
June 3: Drilling activity now taking place more in spits and spurts
Chesapeake continues, despite the low prices for dry gas, to put in pads around here. Activity and equipment movement seems to grow, then slow, then pick up, then crawl... -- spits and spurts. Lately it's barely moving, even the drilling has ceased. I'm told that to drill a single well takes up to two months, depending on the length of the horizontal section. Lately though, I hear the drilling for two days, then it stops; I hear the drilling for 5 days, then it stops. I keep hoping they're having mega equipment problems.
Another notable shift has been in the air traffic. At the peak of this insanity, there were commuter planes and big company jets flying overhead continually. I couldn't walk outside without hearing their buzzing. Now the commuter planes have virtually stopped. The company jet traffic had also dropped off, but it's picking up again. Not to the extent of last year, but I still hear the jets occasionally throughout the day. There were some newspaper articles a while back saying that Chesapeake management likes to use these larger planes.
June 25: DEP detects "explosive" levels of methane near our wellhead
DEP was here today to carry out one of their periodic checks of our water well and - surprise - today we have highly explosive levels of methane outside the well headspace.
I was told that no one should light anything while next to the well, and I had to remove the top we have placed over it (for decorative affect) to allow the methane to more easily dissipate throughout the air.
DEP will return daily now to monitor the situation, and we are to tell them if anything in our water changes. That, by the way, remains the same: milky, white, effervescing with methane which is slow to dissipate out of the water.
I was told that there are several theories about what's causing the methane migration.
DEP did also tell me that it has been discovered that a very deep exploratory hole was drilled near here in the 1950's. I don't know who first discovered the old drill hole or when, but DEP said that Chesapeake managed to get some methane readings in the ground over it, so now they're pointing the finger at that. Having suggested this, Chesapeake has no plans to spend a penny figuring it out -- this is all on DEP with its overstretched resources. DEP will be paying to cement it in over the next week.
But Chesapeake's been telling us they're such a "good neighbor", right? That they care about our environment, right? That they'll happily repair any damages that they might accidently create, and that they strive to do all the correct things. They've bleated this through all the advertising available for the last couple years, so they must have been serious? NOT
A still from the video of Chloe Kelly's flaming faucet
A still taken 8 seconds later from the same video: the flame is still burning.