Monday, 12 March 2012


Have you heard that fracking causes earthquakes and water contamination? If you're reading this blog, then chances are you have. Have you heard of Dimock? Possibly not, although you may have without realising it. Dimock is sometimes referred to as ground-zero of the fracking debate. Sometimes it's portrayed as being some kind of fracking-induced Chernobyl, a once verdant wasteland destroyed by man's folly: (a not-great example here: but just google 'Dimock fracking' and see what comes up).

Inevitably, in such a media climate, this group have slipped under the radar:

If you're interested in fracking, and the true story of what's happening at Dimock, then their site is well worth reading. I wish they'd been picked up on more by the media. In short, they represent most of the rest of Dimock (apart from the 11 families suing the oil company) who resent seeing their town described as some sort of environmental wasteland when in fact they've seen little disruption caused by the fracking, and little evidence of any contamination.

They go on to accuse the 11 'Dimock families' of some pretty shady practices. For example:
Methane is a natural occurrence. Methane has been present in the water of Susquehanna County for hundreds of years. We have many lifelong rsesidents who are willing, and able, to attest to that. As a matter of fact, one of those lifelong residents actually grew up with one of the 11 litigants. He tells of the childhood escapades he and his litigant friend shared in. The two of them would go into the woods (as young children) to hide out and smoke. They would go down by the creek and light the creek water on fire. Mind you, this was over 50 years ago. Why doesn’t the litigant remember this? Who in the world would have thought to put a cigarette lighter next to their water faucet and light their water? In my opinion, only one who had prior knowledge that it was even possible.
Also, that
The litigants are collecting gas royalties. Enough said.
 And finally,
Their initial claim was that their water had been contaminated due to methane migration from natural gas wells drilled near their properties.

That claim has now blossomed into claims of contaminants in their water including, but not limited to, ethylbenzene, xylene, ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and propylene glycol (a naturally occurring by-product in the fermentation of some commercially packaged beers. Propylene glycol is rapidly degraded in all environmental media. These chemicals are not used in the hydro-fracturing process and, interestingly enough, these chemicals were not detected in 2008 pre-drill samples taken at more than a dozen water supplies along Carter Road. There was a toluene contaminant found this spring and summer by Scranton-based Farnham and Associates Inc. which was at levels 1,000 times higher than the toluene levels detected in two wells in 2008. The firm’s president, Daniel Farnham, said. “I’m not here to argue with the gas company,” he said. “My objective is just to illustrate that something’s going on here and it needs to be investigated.”
 Yes, I should say there needs to be an investigation. Chemicals miraculously appearing in water wells 3 years after drilling has stopped sounds suspicious to me.

For obvious reasons, I can't possibly comment on the truth of these claims. However, the thing I find most interesting is that the attention and coverage garnered by Josh Fox, Mark Ruffalo et al., swooping in for a quick publicity shot, completely dwarfs any mention of groups of local people like this.

Next time: I'm probably going to talk about CCS - according to Channel 4 news tonight it looks like things could be moving forward again in this respect. Stay tuned......