Wednesday, November 6, 2013

UPDATE: Ongoing water crisis in Franklin Forks PA (Please Read / Please Help)


Friends, hope you are paying attention to the evolving water crisis in Franklin Forks,
Susquehanna County, PA, which is about 30m south of Binghamton NY.

(store-bought 1-gal or 5-gal containers)
Make cash donations for water here:
Local contacts: Vera Scroggins: 607-237-9685 / Craig Stevens: 570-967-2280

Ongoing crisis/stand-off between affected families, concerned citizens, vs. WPX Energy.

Please-- we need more eyes on this, more media attention.
If you have press contacts please alert them.

This story is BIG...

Condensed version of the story:

WPX was having a Fracking Frenzy near Franklin Forks, PA
around Feb-Mar 2012.
(WPX is part of the Williams Companies which builds/operates compressor stations
and pipelines, like the Laser NE, and the Constitution).

Suddenly, water in several homes turned black and oily, and two local homes were tested by PA DEP at EXPLOSIVE methane levels at 58mg/l and 70.6 mg/l (this is near the theoretical maximum possible at atmospheric pressure and room temperature). 

See the PA DEP determination letters for three affected families in Franklin Forks in these court documents filed Monday, Nov 4, 2013:

For several months since the original complaints were made, the PA DEP did nothing, the attorney for the families did nothing, local elected leaders did nothing, and WPX did nothing.

It was not until Vera Scroggins and Craig Stevens got involved, and made a complaint to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, that WPX came out and "voluntarily" installed water tanks ("water buffalos") to three affected homes (Hadlick, Manning, Henry families). This was March 22, 2012. WPX delivered water to them for 18 months. WPX pays $100 per day per home to deliver water, so to deliver for 18 months to three homes = $162,000.

In April 2013, PA DEP released the test results via Determination Letters which said there was "no indication" that gas drilling caused the water contamination. One week later, a press release was issued with altered wording which said "gas drilling was not to blame", and this was widely reported by the media.

Despite this, WPX continued to deliver water to these families until Sept 25, 2013, and then demanded their equipment back (water tanks). Only problem is, they built sheds around the tanks which are not fixtures attached to the homes. These sheds would need to be demolished to remove the tanks, leaving the costs of new sheds, water tanks, and hookup costs to the homeowners.

WHO OWNS THE TANKS? According to the homeowners, these tanks were gifts. There was no contract signed by the homeowners which said this equipment was temporary, or that it was not a gift, that it belonged to WPX, and would be removed once the water contamination was resolved.

IS THE WATER CONTAMINATION RESOLVED? No. The last time the PA DEP inspected the homes involved, there were still explosive levels of methane, and high levels of barium, chlorides, arsenic, aluminum, magnesium, iron, manganese, and total dissolved solids.

WPX showed up on Friday to remove the tanks, apparently with the agreement with Bill Dubanevich, esq, who had been hired by the Franklin Forks families.
Attorney Dubanavich markets himself as willing to represent people in water contamination cases against the gas industry:  However, he seems to negotiate a) without the consent or knowledge of his clients, and b) against the best interests of his clients, by allowing WPX to remove these water tanks, without having a suitable replacement in place. Dubanevich has since been fired by Mannings and the Hadlicks.

WPX was prevented by some concerned citizens who formed a blockade around the tanks. Also, Tammy Hadlick ordered WPX off her property as trespassers. WPX complied, but is now seeking a court order with US District Court, Middle District of Penn.

In these papers, WPX has made a claim that they spent in excess of $2,000 on Friday. Strangely, this exceeds the cost of the water tanks by 2.5 times!! ($800). Why don't they just leave the tanks there!?

DOES THIS COURT HAVE JURISDICTION? By the very papers WPX has filed with the court, only the Manning family have an action (lawsuit) before the court. The court does not seem to have jurisdiction over the Hadlick family, yet WPX has asked the court for an injunction to allow WPX to trespass (against the will of the property owner) to demolish attached fixtures to remove these water tanks, which WPX cannot show they own, or that they were temporary, and anything other than a gift.

There are many STRANGE and BIZARRE details of this case, which I urge you to explore at the Franklin Forks Timeline page:

But here is one final thing.... By PA state law, the drilling company is presumed liable for any water contamination near unconventional gas drilling operations which occur within 1 year of completion, and within 2,500 feet. (This was increased from 6mos/1,000 ft by Act 13, passed Feb 2012).

Only problem is, the horizontal well bore is commonly over 4,000'. On a recent "Earnings Call" the CEO of Cabot Oil and Gas admitted they had drilled one horizontal well at 8,200' (Eagle Ford Shale, TX).

Here is a graphical depiction of the WPX wells which were active in Franklin Forks Feb-Mar 2012, when a major contamination event occurred.
The yellow circles are the "presumed liability" distance. The red star is the site of the Manning's and the Hadlick's residences.

The second chart shows what typical spacing units might look like with 4,000' horizontal well bores:

The Presumed Liability distance due to Act 13 was increased to 2,500 ft from 1,000'.
Shown are the Sadecki, Mitchell, Knapik, Carrar, Hollenbeck, Depue, Webster
well pads, which all were active during Feb-Mar 2012

The only problem with a presumed liability distance being 2,500 ft from the nearest gas
well bore, is that horizontal wells commonly extend to 4,000 and beyond. 

Here is a map showing the active wells during Feb-Mar 2012 when the most severe water
contamination in Franklin Forks began, with the estimated spacing units for the wells.

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