Friday, November 1, 2013

Water Crisis Averted in Franklin Forks, PA (for now)

Photo by Betta Broad /Catskill Mountainkeeper

WATER CRISIS AVERTED... for now. Today in Franklin Forks, Pennsylvania, concerned residents from PA and NY prevented WPX Energy from removing a 1,100 gallon "Water Buffalo" (tank) from the Hadlick residence, whose water well was contaminated by gas drilling in the area (three homes total, plus a business) with explosive levels of methane, arsenic, barium, and other contaminants.

For 18 months, WPX (the primary driller in the area) delivered non-potable water to these families. However, because the distance to the gas wells was greater than the arbitrary "Presumed Liability" distance set in PA State Law, the PA DEP said, "YES your water is contaminated, but we can't prove it was the gas industry that did it".

After this, WPX stopped water deliveries, and the Hadlick and the Manning families worked with Craig Stevens and Ray Kemble to get private deliveries at their own expense to continue water deliveries.

Note that "non potable" water in the water buffalo is only useful for toilets,  washing clothes and dishes, and taking baths. They still had to purchase water by the gallon for drinking and cooking.

You may recall the Hadlicks' neighbors, the Manning family had such explosive levels of methane after gas drilling in the area, their water well erupted like a geyser:

So today, about 2 dozen members of Vestal Residents for Safe Energy, New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD), NY Friends of Clean Air and Water, Citizen Action of New York, NYers Against Fracking, Catskill Mountainkeeper, PA Citizens for Clean Water, Coalition to Protect New York, Frack Busters, and other groups formed a blockade with their bodies and cars and prevented WPX from removing the water tank.

WPX claims that the Hadlick family consented to the removal of the buffalo (not true) via their attorney (may be true, but this Attorney is acting NOT with the consent of his client), and that they already had a replacement tank. This is true, but the replacement, donated by the Carter family in Dimock was only 300 gallon capacity, 1/4 what they have now. Also, it requires connection to the house which is an expense they family would have to take on.

Tammy Hadlick is disabled and in a wheelchair. She is poor and paying the required $2000 capital costs to purchase a new buffalo and have it installed is a tremendous hardship.

Remarkably-- about 2 dozen local people also showed up, who have leases, and get royalty payments from the gas industry, to protest the people who had come to protect the water, and thus the lives, of the Hadlick family. These people heckled, and questioned the protective force, asking "where are the test results proving WPX is to blame?"

HOW CAN THESE PEOPLE SLEEP AT NIGHT? What kind of a person would NOT support the protection of a WATER SOURCE for a family of 8?

After a 2 hour standoff, WPX finally relented and said they would not remove the buffalo. However they have intentions of coming back next Wednesday, November 6th, so we may need to ask for support for another blockade.

Please watch you local listservs for more information, or else watch for postings on this blog, or on the Facebook Page:

Local media present today:

The best reports were from Newschannel34 and Fox40 (Binghamton).
All three reports called us "activists" or "fractivists", which IMO is a slur.

We are CITIZENS who came to PROTECT a family's water supply. 

In two reports (Fox40 and WNEP) Susan Oliver from WPX said the company
"voluntarily supplied potable water".
This is incorrect. Water which is transferred from truck to water buffalo is by definition non-potable. (not drinkable).  EVEN WITH the water buffalo, these impacted families still must go to the store and purchase (at their own expense) water by the gallon for drinking and cooking.

Scranton Times-Tribune:
Newschannel34 (Binghamton) report:

In Newschannel34's report, only one fact is more nuanced:
"The DEP's 16-month investigation said that drilling was not to blame." 
The truth is the PA DEP's determination letter said,
"...the Department's investigation does not indicate that
gas well drilling has impacted your water supply."

(vague wording.... cause is uncertain--
may be gas drilling
, but no clear indication)
However, Colleen Connolly from PA DEP's Public Relations department
changed the wording
in the press release to read:
"... the [DEP] has determined that high levels of methane found
in three private water wells in Franklin Township, Susquehanna County,
cannot be attributed to natural gas drilling activity"

(definite wording: cause is certainly NOT gas drilling!)
These statements are quite different. See more here:

Fox40 (Binghamton)


The worst report was from WNEP, which made several errors and slurs.

1) "...anti-fracking activists, all from out of state..." FALSE. The group was mostly from NY,
however there were several people there from Pennsylvania, including Vera Scroggins,
and one man from Tioga County PA.

2) The characterized what we were doing was a "protest". It was not a protest. It was PROTECTION.
3) "The group protesting just north of Montrose is called Citizen Action of New York from Binghamton"  FALSE.

Yes, Isaac from Citizen Action helped to organize this rapid response, however there were people from many groups present, including Vestal Residents for Safe Energy (VeRSE), New York Residents Against Drilling (NYRAD), NY Friends of Clean Air and Water, NYers Against Fracking, Catskill Mountainkeeper, PA Citizens for Clean Water,  the Coalition to Protect New York, and Frack Busters.
4) In fact, the local group who were "fed up" were the actual protesters to what we were doing.
The whole framing of the report failed to find anything bizarre about a group of local people
who came to support the gas company REMOVING A FAMILY OF EIGHT's WATER SUPPLY!!!

Susan Oliver can't keep her story straight

Notice that Susan Oliver from WPX advances two different remedies which they were going to implement. a) attach a donated water tank which is 1/4 the size of the present one, or b) re-attach a well which has been proven to be contaminated. Oliver claims this was negotiated via the family attorney Bill Dubanevech, however this was not with the consent of his client, and he has since been fired.

1) She tells WNEP, "Our goal today was to remove our equipment (1100gal), have them install their equipment (300gal) and then we would fill their tank up with fresh potable water so they would start out with a fresh tank.”  (Remember: water moved from tank to tank is not potable. WPX has never supplied them with potable water for drinking/cooking)

2) She tells Newschannel34 the plan was to re-attach the Hadlick's well, which was shown by PA DEP to be contaminated with "methane at double the concentration when it begins to seep out of water into the air, creating an explosion risk, barium at more than twice state and federal safe drinking water limits, elevated levels of aluminum, manganese, iron, turbidity, total dissolved solids and chloride".

According to Newschannel34: QUOTE: Spokeswoman for WPX, Susan Oliver, says the investigation proves the company is not responsible for the well problems. She says WPX has offered to put the Hadlick's well back online. "It's unfortunate today that the activists, who refuse to accept science, they decided to create a stir for absolutely no reason. This family has been victimized by these activists and we were here today to help them bring their water well online, they are the ones who opted to do another temporary system on the outside and we're trying to accommodate that," said Oliver. ENDQUOTE

So according to Oliver, reattaching a well which has been proven to be contaminated to be an acceptable solution to WPX the "Good Neighbor"?

Watch for coverage there. Keep watching this blog for updates.

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