Weitz & Luxenberg P.C.
Jan. 7, 2010
NEW YORK - (Business Wire) Weitz & Luxenberg (www.weitzlux.com) would like American families to consider the following: Imagine you invested your life savings into a home — only to find that a controversial type of gas drilling operation called “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking” is taking place near your neighborhood and could ultimately contaminate your drinking water, endanger your health, and depreciate the value of your property.
Such a scenario is all too real for Carol Osgood, a resident of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Osgood, an environmental engineer, was deeply concerned when she learned that her town, situated over the Marcellus Shale where several natural gas companies are drilling, could soon become polluted by gas fracking.
“My town, which was once a very scenic tourist area, is now littered with ugly gas wells and trucks carrying residual toxic waste water,” Osgood said. “I don’t want to live where I have to worry all the time about whether the air or water is safe to breathe or drink,” she added.
Osgood is worried her state won’t learn from the mistakes made during natural gas drilling in Texas. “I have read many articles about towns polluted in the Barnett shale in Texas by the natural gas drilling and I see no hope for Pennsylvania passing or enforcing any laws to regulate the gas companies to protect our health and the environment,” she said, adding, “My husband and I are currently looking for a place to relocate where there is no natural gas drilling.”
The mammoth fracking process entails pumping millions of gallons of water at extremely high pressure to break up rocks and pry out natural gas that is locked away in the deep shale deposit. Many environmentalists contend such fracturing operations pose a risk to groundwater sources, which may be contaminated by methane, a highly flammable gas, or by the fracking chemicals used to facilitate the extraction process.
In fact, families living near gas drilling facilities in Wyoming, Ohio, Texas and Osgood’s home in the state of Pennsylvania have already complained that their well water has turned cloudy, or even black in color, and is now foul-smelling.
An article in the New York Times on December 8, 2009, highlighted the predicament of a woman from the Appalachian hills in Dimock, Pa., whose family’s drinking water was contaminated with high levels of methane—reportedly a result of gas fracking. The Times report also cited a situation in Bainbridge, Ohio, where an improperly drilled well resulted in contaminated groundwater. After building to high pressures, the Times wrote, “gas migrated through underground faults, and blew up one house.”
On September 25, Pennsylvania regulators ordered Cabot Oil & Gas Corp to halt fracking operations in one county after it had admitted that three recent spills of fracking fluid had occurred. Reportedly, 8,000 gallons of toxic chemicals were spilled on the ground and into a creek in Susquehanna County.
Imagine your children or those of a neighbor playing near an area contaminated by toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. According to Stephen King, Ph.D., M.P.H., a Toxicologist and Epidemiologist in Texas who is familiar with the toxicity of the various chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing and is working with Weitz and Luxenberg, “several of the chemicals are extremely hazardous and toxic. For example, certain glycol ethers, alcohols, amides, amines, and aromatic hydrocarbons are among the many classes of toxic substances that are used in hydraulic fracturing.”
Dr. King went on to say, “if these substances are not properly managed and contained, they can pollute the environment and pose a threat to public health.”
The attorneys in the Environmental and Toxic Torts unit at Weitz & Luxenberg P.C. would like for you to know that you have a right to live in a safe, clean, and uncontaminated environment. Together, we can protect that right.
“There’s a rush on to exploit favorable market conditions for natural gas,” observed Lem Srolovic, an attorney in the Environmental unit. “Unfortunately, gas companies and their well service providers appear all too often willing to place communities and the environment at risk. But those companies must conform to a standard of reasonable care for the communities in which they operate. Where gas extraction injures health or damages property, they should be held accountable,” Mr. Srolovic stated.
People who have been affected by hydraulic fracking may get a free legal review by visiting our website, www.weitzlux.com