Shalefield Stories

Residents on the Frontlines of Fracking Tell Their Personal Stories in New Booklet

Environment Ohio

Kent, OH — As the Ohio Department of Natural Resources prepares new rules governing the disposal of toxic fracking waste in Ohio this spring, residents next door in Pennsylvania today recounted their stories of illness, water contamination, and damage to their livelihoods due to dirty drilling operations. Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center presented the residents’ Shalefield Stories as the latest evidence for rejecting fracking, even as state regulators consider permitting new football field sized lagoons of toxic fracking waste nearby Ohio drilling sites.

“Behind the alarming numbers the outline fracking’s environmental impacts, there are real people whose lives have been gravely impacted by these polluting practices,” said Christian Adams, State Associate from Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center. “These are their stories, and it is our responsibility to heed their words of warning on fracking.”

People recalling their experiences with fracking damage in Shalefield Stories include:

  • Judy Armstrong Stiles of Bradford County, Pa., who spoke of the barium and arsenic that was found in her drinking water, and then in her blood, after Chesapeake began drilling on her land; and
  • June Chappel of Washington County, Pa., who lived with a 15 million gallon fracking waste pit just 200 feet from her house.

While Shalefield Stories was compiled by individual residents in Pennsylvania, there have also been similar tragedies here in Ohio — including Jaime Frederick of Mahoning County, who spoke of health problems and numerous surgeries following moving to a home hemmed in by fracking wells.

Adams was joined by Dr. Ted Voneida, a medical school professor of Case Western Reserve and Neomed Universities. “As a medical school professor for a total of 36 years, I am most interested in health issues.  I am deeply concerned about the destructive nature of fracking, not only to human health, but also to the land, water, and air.”

Fracking produces billions of gallons of wastewater each year that poses a health risk to communities living nearby drilling operations. “Over 750 chemicals are added to the up to 8 million gallons of water required for each well drilled.  Many are known carcinogens, and the waste water is radioactive,” added Voneida.

One of the common themes running through Shalefield Stories is how people have become sick living on the frontlines of fracking. Jaime Frederick of Coitsville, Mahoning County, tells a horror story of mysterious illness and numerous surgeries after moving to a home hemmed in by fracking wells.

“The worst side effect is my concern about safely carrying a child. The doctors fear hemorrhaging or death is possible,” writes Frederick. “If I would become pregnant, there is the risk of birth defects due to the chemicals from my water.”

There is emerging evidence that fracking poses a risk to human health. A peer reviewed study by the University of Colorado School of Public Health found increased health risks near drilling operations.

Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center presented Shalefield Stories today, as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources considers new rules governing the disposal of fracking waste in Ohio. Included in the new proposal is language permitting the construction of football field sized lagoons of toxic waste water near drilling sites. A study by West Virginia University in neighboring West Virginia found that of 15 waste and freshwater lagoons studied 8 were built to contain more water than permitted or had structural problems that could cause leaks.

On the federal level, last summer the Obama administration received more than a million comments urging for much stronger protections from fracking for national forests and national parks. In addition, Rep. Matt Cartwright (PA) has introduced CLEANER (H.R. 2825) — a bill to close the loophole exempting oil and gas waste from the nation’s hazardous waste law.

“What experiences like these show is that states are not protecting people from this dirty drilling,” said Adams. “It’s time for Washington to step in; ultimately they need to ban fracking in order to protect our environment and public health. They can start by barring fracking in and around our national parks and national forests, and closing the loophole that exempts fracking from core provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health laws.”


Environment Ohio is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization, working towards a cleaner, greener, healthier future.