This 1,100-gallon tank was purchased for Jared and Heather McMicken and their children to supply them with fresh water to bathe and do laundry until a solution is found for their contaminated water. Chesapeake provided these tanks for two neighbors as well—the Mike Phillips and Scott Spencer families—who are currently experiencing the same water issues as the McMickens. Photo by Cain Chamberlin.
The Rocket-Courier, Wyalusing, PA
A streak of bad luck seems to be lingering over Jared and Heather McMicken of Paradise Road in Terry Township.
It all started in early June, when the couple discovered a strange, brown discoloration in their tap water. They still do not know what exactly is causing the disturbance as they are awaiting water test results from DEP. However, the DEP testing done in mid-July did find rising levels of methane in the well, which has now led to something the McMickens never saw coming.
Both of their next-door neighbors, the Mike Phillips and the Scott Spencer families, have the same discoloration in their water wells, which started about a month after the McMickens made that discovery. They all believed that a nearby Chesapeake gas drilling site was responsible for the sudden dilemma. Even though Chesapeake denied the claims at first, they are now taking action in a joint effort with DEP to solve the residents’ water problems.
Because of the increasing levels of methane in the water of each home, DEP installed an alarm device in the basement of each home. These devices are specifically designed to detect high amounts of methane that could be hazardous.
“We were told that if the alarms ever went off, we should call 911 immediately,” said Heather McMicken.
Early last Wednesday morning, their alarm went off, and the McMickens were consequently evacuated from their home as a precautionary measure.
“We made the call, and in no time DEP and Chesapeake were here,” she said. Since then, the McMickens and their two children have stayed at a hotel and also at the home of her mother until they feel safe enough to move back. They do make occasional stops at their home to pick up more clothes and necessities.
Meanwhile, DEP and Chesapeake have been on the property nearly every day trying to find an answer to the current predicament.
“Both are still doing all kinds of testing for us, and we are willing to welcome a third party to do tests too,” Jared McMicken explained.
During a meeting held late last week between Chesapeake and the Paradise Road residents, the company offered to have replacement water wells drilled for each home and purchase them all a temporary water source that they could use for bathing and washing clothes.
Hoses from an enormous 1,100-gallon tank are run through the house, replacing the old existing water pipes.
“We are very happy that they are taking care of the water problem,” said McMicken, “We are just trying to take a breather and wait for the test results to come back.”
Next-door neighbors Mike and Jonna Phillips are waiting on paperwork to look over and sign for a new water well. Their water issues began on July 12, and they finally had the temporary tank hooked up on Saturday. Before that, Jonna, who is seven months pregnant, drove to a friend’s house every day to shower. She is thrilled that she can finally wash clothes and bathe in her own home and is anxiously awaiting a new well. “Chesapeake is certainly trying to accommodate us better than before,” she said.
At the meeting with Chesapeake spokespersons, residents were also informed that there is ongoing testing to determine where the gas is coming from, and it was noted that the affected wells appear to be fed by the same aquifer.
Geologists were present at the meeting in an attempt to help explain aquifers, the type of rock formations in the area and how it may all relate to the potential movement of gas beneath the earth.
The Rocket-Courier has been communicating over the past week with Chesapeake Energy officials on the Paradise Road situation, posing a number of questions.
As of press time, there has been no response or statement.