Published: August 29, 2014
By: Nadia Steinzor
Other parts of Blackout in the Gas Patch:
From the case study:
Anyone can long for the past, but Pat Klotz has better reason than most to be nostalgic for her life before shale gas drilling came to Bradford County. For many years, she had a large garden and horses, with plenty of fresh air and time outdoors every day. Even after moving to a smaller property, she stayed active caring for rescued dogs, doing home renovations, and walking in the woods and meadow behind her house.
Which is why it came as a shock in 2011 to frequently be exhausted and have intense headaches, nose and throat irritation, muscle cramps, and dizzy spells. Her dogs would refuse to drink the tap water and were more lethargic and unsteady on their feet. Then her water turned fizzy and black.
Pat started keeping a log of what happened when—and realized that her health symptoms often occurred at the same time as drilling and production activities on the gas well pad located less than 1,000 feet away on a neighboring property. Pat then made sure that she, her boyfriend, and her dogs only drank bottled water.
Pat has documentation that should have resulted in help from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and possibly a replacement water supply provided by the operator of the well closest to her, Talisman Energy. This includes results of a pre-drill water sample and several other water tests—which taken together show clear evidence of changes to water quality after drilling began.
In addition, Pat’s house is well within the “zone of presumption” for attributing water quality changes to nearby drilling.1 Yet more than two years ago, DEP neglected to issue a determination after testing Pat’s water and has done nothing since to hold Talisman accountable. It isn’t clear whether this has to do with time and resource constraints, insufficient information and training provided to inspectors, or other factors. For her part, Pat continues to file complaints with DEP about odors, noise, and air and water quality concerns—and is still waiting for something to change.