EARTHWORKS

Pam Judy

United States | Pennsylvania | Carmichaels

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Pam Judy in front of a compressor station. Photo by Mark Schmerling

My name is Pam Judy. I live in Carmichaels in Greene County, Pennsylvania. 

In 2006, we built a new home on property originally belonging to my great grandparents and a part of the family farm. For three years, my family enjoyed the peace and quiet of living in the country. 

But that quiet way of life abruptly came to an end when a compressor station was built 780 feet from our home on an adjoining landowner’s property. 

Due to the noise and the fumes, we can no longer spend time outdoors.  Shortly after operations began, we could smell fumes and started to experience extreme headaches, runny noses, sore and scratchy throats, muscle aches, and a constant feeling of fatigue. Both of our children have experienced nosebleeds; our daughter says she feels like she has cement in her bones. I’ve had dizziness, vomiting and vertigo to the point that I can’t stand. 

Last year, our son was out scouting for the start of hunting season in areas of our property that were in close proximity to the compressor station. The next day, he developed blisters in his mouth and throat, had extreme difficulty swallowing, and ended up in the emergency room.


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In June of 2010, I was finally able to convince the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to conduct air tests in our yard and around the compressor station.  Those tests revealed emissions of 16 chemicals, including benzene, styrene, toluene, xylene, hexane, heptane, acetone, acrolein, propene, carbon tetrachloride, chloromethane and others. Most of these are known carcinogens and exposure to them creates the very symptoms my family and I have been experiencing.  

Unfortunately, the DEP’s report from this particular site as well as four others concluded that there we no real short-term health risks associated with exposure and that they couldn’t comment on the lifetime cancer risks because of the short-term nature of their testing.  

I am extremely concerned that as a result of prolonged exposure to the previously mentioned chemicals, we will develop even more serious health issues, including cancer—yet officials do not take the complaints of residents seriously enough to require more in-depth studies or demand industry change its practices. 

I have likened the oil and gas industry to that of  the asbestos industry.  For many years, our government and the asbestos industry used elaborate public relations schemes to convince us that there was no harm in being exposed to asbestos; now we understand the true cancer risks. I fear that the same thing will happen with shale gas. If drilling continues to increase without protections in place, the dangers will eventually become clear to everyone—but for those of us who have been exposed, it could be too late.


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Tagged with: pennsylvania, oil and gas, health and toxics, compressor stations, benzene, air pollution

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