What’s the Impact of One Spill?


Most of what I post on this site has to do with numbers: Pennsylvania’s 9,370 violations in less than four years; which drilling operators have the most violations per well; Marcellus Shale wells are 1.5 to 4 times more likely to have violations than conventional wells; and so on.

But of course, numbers only tell part of the story of the impact of gas drilling. It doesn’t really even begin to explain what a single violation means to people who live near these wells. The best way to get that qualitative information is to read the stories of the people who live there. What follows is a first-hand account from Bonnie Burnett of Bradford, PA.

To Whom It May Concern or Who Cares:

My husband and I own a little farm (125 acres) we planned to retire on in Granville Summit, Bradford County, PA. In March of 2009, when the drilling started in Bradford County, there were 2 spills on a well pad next to our property, that rushed down the hill side into our pond, killing all the fish and aquatic life. A deadly swath was carved from the drilling pad to our pond, killing everything. Big old oak trees to tiny peppermint plants that we planted.

A little history: Before Chesapeake started drilling my husband wrote to DEP and asked them the protect our little pond and our property. We saw how they were installing the drilling pad, cutting down over 5 acres of forest and trying to burn the stumps, to no avail, then burying the unburned stumps. Hauling tons of fill and crushed stone to make the pad…..on and on.

Then there was an fracking spill, all noted and recorded -(Chesapeake called it a
human error) causing about 50,000 gallon of second hand fracking water to flow through the woods, downslope into our pond and over the breast of the pond, down into the wetland and into the little creek that flows into the town of Towanda. Two weeks later there was an acid spill of approximately 600 gallons of hydrocholoric acid, all noted and recorded, that again flowed through the pad and seeped through the woods and into our pond. I’m not sure if they labeled this a human error or an accident!

From that date to today, after every rain event water from their pad flows into our pond. On 12/2/10 after a rain storm, water from their pad was flowing across their property into our pond at approximately 95 gal per min., as per their engineer report. After hundreds of telephone calls, on our part, and meetings with Chesapeake and a lot of promises-guess what-it’s winter and the ground and pond is frozen. To top it all off, our well water has been contaminated also. DEP send us a letter and told us not to ingest our well water. Oh well. Chesapeake is making money and the politicians are lining their pockets and are happy and OUR (your and mine) water is being contaminated!!!! I don’t know how old you are and I really don’t care, my husband and I are in our 60’s, but my little grandbabies are the ones I am really concerned about. If the water is
contaminated there will be no life. No one seems to understand that. Life needs water!!

By the way, my husband has had several meetings with DEP, EPA, CNN, CBS, the BBC, PBC (you can find them all on the internet) Guess what-they all say the same thing- This can’t be happening!  I’m one of the first ones to admit, I do NOT want more rules and regulations from the government. However, when a big powerful money laden company comes and starts to destroy our countyside and starts to pollute our water, then it’s time for some regulations. The average AMERICAN, who works and gives everything for our country and wants to be safe, needs to have someone help protect us.

You now know some of the mess we have acquired from a huge money making endeavor, a company that happens to be owned by some foreign country and they are laughing all the way to the bank!!

Respectfully submitted,

Bonnie Burnett

If you or anyone you know has first hand stories about gas drilling, send it to me and I will share it with our readers. We are interested in hearing your stories.

4 replies
  1. Tim Ruggiero
    Tim Ruggiero says:

    >Aruba Petroleum has had a number of spills on our property. We used to own 10 acres, now we have about 5 or so. Left a 'jet unattended', resulting in the spil of thousands of gallons of drilling mud. A frac tank valve was not shut, so it leaked all night and saturated the ground around it. It was not cleaned up. They moved the frac tank closer to the house, about 300 feet away. Leaked again, the ground obviously saturated around the tank, and again, not cleaned up. One of the condensate tanks overflowed and gushed out condensate for more than 12 hours before it was shut down. In the level area about 50 feet away from the well heads, bubbles pop up in the puddles after a rain. The bubbles ignite. Some kind of bright red fluid seeps out of the same holes as the bubbles. They have re-seeded the former horse pasture 3 times, yet nothing, including weeds grow here. It's almost completely dirt and left over gravel from the pad. Very attractive. A newspaper did a story on land farming. I was one of the people interviewed. Aruba's CEO called the paper and threatened legal action if a retraction wasn't sent, stating they have never spread drilling mud on our property. The videos of Aruba spreading drilling mud are posted on YouTube. We tested our drinking water pre-drilling: crystal clear. Tests after drilling: A chemical resembling MTBE, strontium and boron are in the water. Our property used to be worth $300K, appraised as high as $340K. By a 5-0 ruling by the county tax authority, it's now worth $78K. They were inclined to give it a value of $0, but the appraisal we had done showed $78K, so that's what they went with. Regardless, no one will buy it at $300K or anywhere close, and we can't sell it. I guess we've become so desperate for gas that poisoning people's water and destroying their homes' value is part of the price that gets paid to meet our energy needs. Tim Ruggiero, lonestar.ranch@gmail.com

  2. Fracked
    Fracked says:

    >Hi Matt,
    Best New Year Wishes to everyone at Fractracker.
    There is a brand new facebook community page – Living the Drill – which is "a registry for anyone in the world, whose water, air quality, health, land, or community has been adversely affected by gas drilling or gas pipelines. Tell your story here."
    I strongly encourage all efforts to compile and centralize data AND stories.
    Your site is a wonder & invaluable – sincere thanks to all of you.

  3. Matt Kelso
    Matt Kelso says:

    >Bonnie's story was forwarded to me so I can't ask her directly, but she did say in her account that, "there were 2 spills on a well pad next to our property," which seems to imply that it was not on their 125 acre farm.

  4. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    >This makes me sick…lets remember when we mention life we are talking about all of God's creatures large and small. Lets take a deer for example. If it does not die from contaminated water and food, and a hunter shoots it during hunting season…what are you eating? You and your family. People need to look a the big picture here.
    Bonnie good for you for speaking up, and I am so very sorry your land and family have suffered.
    Can I ask a question?
    Am I correct to assume this drilling was not on The Burnett property?

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