Fracking company poisoned springs forcing family to buy water at Walmart
On the phone one day in 2011, Buzz told his neighbor Beth Voyles that his water had gone bad. He’d gone to fill up the kiddie pool for Junior and gray gunk had come out of the hose. Junior was Seth, the 5-year-old grandson of Buzz’s girlfriend, Loretta Logsdon, and Buzz loved the boy. The smell from the water was god-awful: rotten eggs and raw sewage. If the water was bad, what did that mean for Buzz’s vegetable garden? Every summer, he fed himself and his neighbor Mr. Gray his prized tomatoes. He wasn’t sure if those tomatoes were safe anymore.
Beth, who had had water problems of her own, told him to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Range Resources, the Texas-based oil and gas company that was drilling nearby, and have both come out to test his water. Buzz was upset.
“I’ve never had any problems with my water before,” he said.
Without the pre-drill test to serve as a baseline, Range could argue that any chemicals in the water were already present. A pre-drill was essential in proving that oil and gas had contaminated the water. With a legacy of coal mining, which brought with it methane contamination, there were pre-existing problems. And even if not, industry claims could introduce enough doubt into a case to defeat it.
Without water, Buzz wouldn’t be able to stay on his land. He’d lost his job, and couldn’t afford to buy even limited amounts.
Since Pennsylvania doesn’t require monitoring of private wells, there was no record of what was in Buzz’s well – though it sat on a floodplain next to a creek that sometimes overflowed its bank.
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