Truth and Consequences: Fracking Concerns in Pike County Pennsylvania

fracking

Water on Fire: Is fracking a threat to Pike County, Pennsylvania?

Pike County has something to boast about: Its water is in the top 5% of the nation’s purest. The Delaware River, the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi, supplies over 17 million people with clean, unfiltered water. In fact, the Delaware not only offers water that is ranked among the best in the United States, it provides substantial revenue to our area through tourism, as well as countless health, recreational and educational benefits to people who reside in and visit the area.

Most residents have heard about the worries surrounding fracking and the serious threat it poses to the water quality as well as to the overall environmental health of this area. The term “fracking” refers to induced hydraulic fracturing -or hydrofracturing- a well-bore procedure used to release the rock-embedded, deep natural gas to prepare it for extraction. This type of well-bore technique literally fractures the subterranean shale in our area in order to liberate gas. While the idea of local acquisition of environmental gas sounds like a good energy source alternative, the methods by which this gas is extracted triggers an unchecked migration of gasses as well as the hazardous chemicals used in the hydraulic process. Fracking effectively discharges toxic elements into the air and water supply.

Given the hazards inherent in this procedure, it is difficult for residents to fathom why it would be permitted in this ecologically vital, residential area. In fact, a number of countries have discontinued this practice. In Pennsylvania, some argue that accessing natural fuel locally seems like step toward energy self-sufficiency. Proponents, downplaying the documented dangers of hydraulic fracturing, point out that there is intrinsic risk in most energy extraction processes. But the fuel extracted is not even for local use. In fact, gas companies export most of the product to India and China, where fracked gas commands high prices. There is no upside, no benefit for residents. Gas companies profit, while the local population suffers irreversible, often life-threatening damage.

Fracking in Pike County is being met with some strong, educated opposition. When asked about the Tennessee Gas Pipeline which has started its process in the area already, concerned citizen and activist, Lenore Fasula, commented: “The fracked gas will be transported under the Delaware River. Under the best of circumstances, the pipes used to transport run the risk of leakage, causing toxic seepage into waterways. Compounding the dangers here, the pipes being used on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline are imported from China and are made of inferior quality yellow steel. So we run an even greater risk of leakage of corrosive matter into our drinking water, into our soil, and into our bodies. It’s a disaster.”

Despite a vocal opposition, the pipeline is currently under construction. Over 450 acres of forest have been cut down. Ninety streams and over 130 wetlands will be in the way of this pipeline. When asked about compliance and regulations to help safeguard residents, Fasula replied, “There are many documented regulatory compliance failures in the construction of this pipeline and we have brought attention to these. This has helped many to understand the dangers and irreversible damages that the fracking gas industry will cause in our area. A compressor station is proposed off of Rte 6 in Milford. Compressors periodically have to release stored gases into the air causing large quantities of methane and other toxins to be released into the atmosphere. My concern is if they decide to drill wells here in Milford the toxic pollution will be an even larger threat to our health, air, water and land in this beautiful land we are privileged to call home here in Pike County, Pennsylvania.”

To learn more about the Tennessee Gas Pipeline and local fracking, please visit the Delaware River Keeper and Stop The Tennessee Gas Pipeline websites.

4 Comments

  1. Fracking in this area reminds me of when I was a kid growing up in the small town of Shoreham on eastern Long Island. Back in the early 1970s it was a town that still had a general store, farms and miles of forestland fronting the Long Island Sound. As kids my friends and I would bike ride down the narrow and twisted road to the swamps and bamboo forests that bordered another hamlet, Wading River.

    Then LILCO started building the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on the swampland which was to be completed by the end of the decade. They told us it would be foolproof, lowered taxes and built new schools. It all seemed idealistic to homeowners yet us kids and people from all over the country started pouring in and protesting, for if there was a problem how could anyone evacuate an island? In 1977 there was a hydrogen gas explosion in Waterford, Connecticut then in 1979 there was a core meltdown in Middletown, Pennsylvania at Three Mile Island. LILCO told us that all we had to do was evacuate just 15 miles to safety. No one bought that and for tax purposes when Shoreham was finally completed millions over budget and years behind schedule it was fired up for a few days and then taken off line forevermore. The huge nuclear power building still blights the landscape but the danger of an accident is now just a memory and the once pristine site is a wasteland.

    Now Pike County, whose residents are receiving no benefits from this pipeline or fracking whatsoever are facing the same perilous situation. The pipeline is running past our schools, shopping districts and through our drinking water, forests and rivers. For an area that is known for its environmental history and tourism this is just as idiotic as the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant was 40 years ago.

    I applaud people like Lenore Fasula (I’ve witnessed your anger, frustration, dedication and tears) and you, Lisa Reitman-Dobi and all the voices out there bringing this issue to the attention of the public. I applaud the protesters and activists who care more about the future of our children and our county and our country, who realize we can solve current energy problems without creating future disasters. We know the gas companies hold the purse strings and only care about the almighty dollar remaining in their own bulging wallets. There are several alternatives that are being silenced and ridiculed by these conglomerates but as long as we keep protesting and educating the public by getting the message out there, like Shoreham, we still have a chance to win. Keep up the good fight and thank you for keeping the public informed.

  2. Richard thank you for expressing yourself with such eloquence. Your a great writer. Yes education and doing what we can to give a voice to protecting our Mother Earth is so detrimental. I pray each day in protection and gratitude for this amazing land we are allowed to walk upon.

    Many thanks to Lisa Reitman-Dobi for bringing this important topic to attention and for her wonderful article.

    1. Lenore, I thank you for giving me background on this issue, and I am sure that I can speak for the entire community when I thank you for giving this matter your attention, for fighting to keep our water safe.

  3. A gas lease map of Pike County can be obtained in the county administration office. There are 8 1/2 x 11 copies for cheap or free. It’s true that the edge of the Marcellus Shale that lies under Pike County is thin and older than the more productive areas, but I believe that given a high price of methane and Delaware River Basin Commission approval, the industry would very much like to tap the gas in Pike County. Already, they’ve drilled dozens of wells in less economical parts of the shale. Sometimes wells are drilled just to hold onto leases or to fool investors who want to hear how much drilling the company’s doing, even if less gas comes out.

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