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Life Arts    H3'ed 7/13/10

Springville, PA: Before and After Marcellus Shale Fracking and Drilling

Message Jack Hendricks

Marcellus Shale Drilling in Washington County, PA by pennfuture

Marcellus Shale Drilling in Washington County, PA
Flickr imagebyPennFuture

I spent the first six years of my life, 1937 to 1943, in a house by the stream that was fed by the outpourings of water from the rocks in the sides of the hills into which my tiny town was nestled. I played in the stream next to my house, and it was clean and pure. Then we moved away, and I seldom saw the town again until recently, in my 72nd year of life. I wondered if the house I lived still stood, if the town still looked the same.

In June of this year, we were staying in a cabin in beautiful Ricketts Glen State Park and hiking the remarkable fall trails with our son and grandchildren. We were thrilled to see the bright clear water tumbling over dozens of waterfalls as we climbed the canyons.

One day we drove the reasonable distance to Springville. And there it was! The line of houses along the road were still there, and my house indeed still stood, in nice shape, too! And there was the stream"..the water was dark, the rocks stained deep brown, black.

Springvillie is a few of miles downstream from Dimock, PA. Gas drilling into the Marcellus Shale involved sending a dangerous and secret brew of chemicals into the rocks deep inside the Earth. The chemical had leaked into the ground water, into the wells and springs of Dimock. People were sickened, and it appears that the people in this town of a few thousand people can never drink water from their wells as they had since the town was founded long ago. Their water sources suffered permanent damage.

I noticed that the traffic through Springville on Route 29 consisted mostly of tanker trucks, going both ways. Water for the drilling operation in Dimock going north, used fracking and drilling compounds going south for disposal. Where? Well, it's a contract job.

So the poisoned water from Dimock is coming through Springville. Some of it goes into community waste disposal plants where it is treated as sewage, then released into the creeks leading into the Susquehanna River, the one that comes on down and pours into the Chesepeake bay. Some of it cannot be accounted for at all. It goes"somewhere.

I stood on the sidewalk where my friend's hardware store once stood, near a café that wasn't there in my time. I was taking pictures of a town that still existed! A large man got out of his car and walked directly toward me, big smile on his face. I was shocked that he seemed to know who I was!

"Do you know me?" I asked. "Yup." He replied. He was half my age, how could he remember me? I was astonished to say the least.

"You're the guy from the Newspaper" he said. But I wasn't! It was a misunderstanding. He was expecting a reporter with a camera to meet with him"but about what? He explained that he was from Texas. Aha, a Marcellus Shale Gas Driller! "Yes" he said. He was eager to make a good impression for Public Relations reasons.

The license plates along the street read Texas, Oklahoma, other states that had been driller boom states in the past. Now it's Pennsylvania's turn as drilling the shale beneath our feet has become economically feasible. That brings a few temporary jobs. But".

I have a degree in Geology and have worked in the field in the states from which the friendly guy came. I have seen two kinds of places. Beautiful places that have not been subjected to mineral exploitation, and".. Ugly places ruined by mineral exploitation.

Pennsylvania is next. I am not happy about Springville's future or the future of many other towns and regions in our state.

Except where mining has made its scars this is still a beautiful state. Unless we control the development of the Marcellus Shale gas deposits, our future will bring ruinous scarring of our landscape and horrible poisoning of our water.

Only the state legislature and pass the laws needed to control this development. Those people get a lot of money in the form of campaign contributions from corporations, including the ones drilling into the Marcellus Shale. Therefore, the legislature is likely to pass only the laws that favor them, that is, with little taxation or resistance or environmental control. Unless, of course, they hear the will of the people!

Healthcare for All PA is holding a gathering of the people. It will take place Saturday, July 17, 1-4 PM. It will be on the second floor of the neat and heck Appalachian Brewing Company Brew Pub at 50 North Cameron Street

in Harrisburg. We the people are going to discus a range of issues including universal health care, the Marcellus Shale drilling exploitation, and other issues relating to our state's budget. Seventeen organizations affected by the state budget will be represented. You are invited.
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Jack and Kathie Hendricks are retired school teachers who live on a small farm in central Pennsylvania.
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