Lessons from Wetzel County
I recently learned of the effects of five years of
gas fracking in Wetzel County where 24/7 truck
traffic is normal during gas-well drilling and
fracking procedures. For any well, drilling may
continue for three months, and fracking may
continue for three months and may be repeated
For a single fracking procedure, 1,500 tractor trailers travel to the site each day. The drilling, fracking and truck traffic all contribute to excessive noise. The heavy truck traffic has led to driving delays, increased driving hazards and accidents and damage of local roads. Residents frequently can’t get to their homes or appointments, and tempers flare between local drivers and fracking truckers.
Accidents often entail large fracking equipment or toxic fracking materials spewing off trucks, leading to several hours of road cleanup and stalled traffic.
The State Department of Highways cannot keep up
with road damage.
Fracking also has brought light, air and water pollution to Wetzel County. Lighting at wellpads and from fracking equipment and vehicles resembles that of small cities and diffuses the sky with artificial light, preventing a clear view of the night sky. Air quality has deteriorated due to site-preparation burning, sand dust, cinder dust, diesel fumes, emissions off condensate tanks, gas venting and flaring, and gas fires and explosions. All of these air pollutants are clearly visible and undisputable.
On several properties, well water is contaminated and no longer suitable for use. Affected property-owners must haul in fresh water at their own expense. Because fracking uses highly toxic chemicals and diesel fuel, highly suspect sources of water contamination include land slips or other compromise of fracking waste pits; escape of fracking fluid through compromised gas wells or shale fractures; and spills of fracking chemicals, fracking byproducts or diesel fuel.
In all these cases, contaminants have been known to seep into ground water. Gas companies refute the role of fracking in water contamination, arguing there is no proof of uncontaminated water before fracking. To avoid debate and allow compensation, property-owners must pay for baseline water testing before fracking preparations begin.
Morgan County needs to learn from Wetzel County’s experience.