Hydrofracking: A reality check

To the Editor:         

Sunday afternoon, June 30, 2013, my husband and I decided to drive to northeastern Pennsylvania to see for ourselves what was going on in the town of Dimock, and the counties of Susquehanna, Wyoming, and Bradford.  We had an atlas and a GPS, but no specific information about well sites. I went online and got that information when we got home, however.

The trip changed me.

I would recommend it to anyone — pro, con, or otherwise — who wants to know what it would be like to live with hydrofracking.

When we got to Binghamton, I noticed the smell.  By the time we crossed the border into Pennsylvania, my eyes were watering and the back of my throat was irritated.  The entire 3-plus hours of our trip through the Pennsylvania counties, it only got worse.

This surprised me.  I had heard and read about water-quality problems, but the air-quality problems may actually trump those, as I have learned since.

Traffic was fairly light from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the back-country roads we traveled, but a large proportion of that was truck traffic:  fresh-water tankers and wastewater tankers.  Some of the roads had been recently paved; some were very rough. 

The countryside is beautiful.  The Susquehanna River runs through the area.

But the land is now effectively an industrial zone.  A lot of the well sites are tucked away out of plain site, but some are visible.  There are equipment yards, water extraction facilities, pipelines, compressors, gas industry buildings, etc.

Heading back north, we eventually took Route 6, designated a Scenic Highway.  One of the open pits, full of wastewater and all its chemicals, is part of the scenery now.

The following signs were posted on that road as you approach Wysox: “High Aggressive Driver Area,” followed by “High D.U.I. Crash Area,” followed by “Targeted Enforcement Zone.”

There's a railway running along the road there, too.  Railroad cars carry “frack sand,” which is used in the fluid mixture.

We turned onto Route 187 from there, heading back to Binghamton.  I wanted out.  My husband would have liked to explore some more but I had seen enough. 

Nothing beats reality.  It's heartbreaking for the land and the people and the animals and the birds, some of whom might land in those open wastewater pits for a rest in their travels, innocent of their calamity. 

Like they say on Reading Rainbow:  “You don't have to take my word for it.”

Our New York state, county, city, and town officials should get on a bus and go, unsupervised.  You can go there yourselves.  Bring enough gas masks for everyone.

Dianne Sefcik


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