In her July 23 letter regarding shale gas drilling, Marie Lusins said: “There have been no instances of groundwater contamination due to this process. Ever. Nowhere.” She is wrong.
In Sublette County, Wyo., where nearly 6,000 wells have been drilled, benzene, a chemical associated with aplastic anemia and leukemia, was detected in a water well in concentrations 1,500 times safe levels. According to a 2008 ProPublica article, “The contamination in Sublette County is significant because it is the first to be documented by a federal agency, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. But more than 1,000 other cases of contamination have been documented by courts and state and local governments in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”
So, Ms. Lusins, there is your “ever” and your “somewhere” — in spades.
You suggest we look to Butler County, Pa., and provide speculative figures for royalties from its controller. However, in Pennsylvania, drillers are pulling out and cutting royalty checks to zero.
We might also look to Bradford County, Pa., where in 2011, Chesapeake Energy incurred the largest fine ever imposed on a gas company — more than $1 million — for contaminating the water supplies of 16 families. Also, DEP twice fined Chesapeake Energy $250,000 — once for a blow-out and once again for allowing sediment to enter Sugar Creek in North Towanda. In another instance, Chesapeake Energy agreed to pay $1.6 million in damages to three families who signed leases with Chesapeake Appalachia to drill beneath their land. Are these the “growth patterns with enduring impacts” you are touting?
In spite of the overwhelming documented evidence for keeping Otsego County frack-free, you and Otsego County Rep. James Powers appear to be the ones “who don’t understand fact and reason or who follow the loudest, least-informed drummers.”