"They Are Afraid Their House Could Blow Up": Meet the Families Whose Lives Have Been Ruined by Gas Drilling [Photos By Award-Winning Photographer Nina Berman]
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Adron and Mary Dell'Osa, two young organic farmers, put all they had into building a one room home and starting an organic farm. One month after they settled in, a well pad went up, then another and another. A compressor station is planned. They're concerned about how the diesel fumes from all the trucks were affecting their 2-year-old daughter. They don't know what to do. They're getting water tests.
Joe Shervinski has a 12-acre spread in Wyalusing, with a windmill, solar panels, some cows and three domestic turkeys. He's trying to figure out whether he should sell now while his water is still good and move out of state, but he doesn't know where to go. Each month he fills a water jug and tries to light it as a DIY water test.
Down the road from him, George and Charlene Miller, two retirees from New Jersey, thought they had found the perfect spot: 16 gorgeous acres with a brook, three ponds, space for gardening. George, a disabled veteran, built 40 birdhouses. A sign at the entrance to their home reads "Journey's End" and Charlene spoke of wanting her ashes spread across the woods. "Then, one day I went out to get my mail, and all the trees were gone," she said.
Soon she'll be looking at a huge rig, and the first round of drilling will last 26 days. The noise will be constant. Trucks carrying water, equipment, men and machinery will pass by her home. Another well is planned across the street in the opposite direction. "We'll likely have to get a water buffalo," she said. They've spent $1,000 on a private water test. Next they'll test their pond as a kind of insurance policy in case the drilling ruins it.
"We moved out here to get away from all of this, and it caught up with us quicker then we thought, " she said. She seems more resigned then surprised. She already supplies water to her son, his wife and two young children who live in Montrose, about an hour away, surrounded by gas wells. The young family moved from Michigan to be close to her and George. They're renting a home with an option to buy, but their water went bad and the landlord isn't doing anything. He sends Charlene photos of flaring wells, and trucks with radioactive signage. "They're being crushed, " she said.