Shalefield Stories: Residents on the Frontlines of Fracking Tell their story to the country

Media Releases

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Philadelphia, PA — A newly released booklet, compiled by the citizen’s group Friends of the Harmed, is being released nationwide to make the case why fracking should not be expanded into other states.  The booklet, which PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center is helping to present, is called Shalefield Stories and recounts stories of families living with illness, water contamination and damage to their livelihood—even as the current administration advocates to carry-on, full steam ahead, with fracking.

“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 Kristen Cevoli, Fracking Program Director for PennEnvironment 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;
  • June Chappel of Washington County, Pa., who lived with a 15 million gallon fracking waste pit just 200 feet from her house; and
  • Terry Greenwood of Washington County PA, who lost 11 head of cattle after fracking fluid contaminated a pond and field on his farm.

Shalefield Stories was compiled by individual residents in Pennsylvania and is being released in a number of events across the country to highlight the tragedies that have impacted people in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia from growing amounts of shale gas drilling.

“The natural gas industry has stolen our land, polluted our streams and air, made our family and animals ill, and destroyed our peaceful way of life,” said David and Linda Headley, residents of Fayette County, PA in the report.  “We want safer extraction, more concern for the environment, and accountability for the industry.”

One of the common themes running through Shalefield Stories is how people have become sick living on the frontlines of fracking.  In Bradford County, PA, shortly after drilling began in 2010, the Stiles family experienced a series of unexplained health problems, from extreme rashes that caused their skin to peel, stomach aches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and seizures.    An independent water test revealed dangerous levels of lead, methane, barium, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals in family’s tap water. Blood tests revealed barium and arsenic. Further testing revealed radon in the air, and radium and uranium in the water. 

The toxic substances used in fracking fluid and wastewater have been linked to a variety of negative and serious health effects, such as cancer, endocrine disruption, and neurological and immune system problems. 

“The only transparent part of this industry is the toxic contamination that it’s doing to our environment and to our democracy” stated Briget Shields of Friends of the Harmed, “This one of the reasons we put Shalefield Stories together – to expose what these drilling companies are doing to families and communities.”

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center presented Shalefield Stories today, as further mounting evidence of the dangerous and dirty practice of fracking in the state of Pennsylvania.

“For anyone across the nation who doubts the damage of dirty drilling, all they have to do is look to the nightmare unfolding in Pennsylvania. We have known this truth for some time. But now we are hearing it from the source, from the very people living on the frontlines of fracking,” concluded Cevoli. “We urge our decision-makers in Harrisburg to heed the warnings of their own constituents who have had to live with the consequences of dirty drilling, and take swift action to close the door on this dangerous practice.”

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 Cevoli, of PennEnvironment. “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 loopholes that exempts fracking from core provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health laws.”