Trailer Talk's Frack Talk: What Happens When Gas Drillers Ruin Your Home and Water? You Fight Back.
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Sabrina Artel: Welcome to Trailer Talk. I have joining me Julie and Craig Sautner. You traveled all the way from Pennsylvania. We're here in Beaverkill, New York. This is the Catskill Mountainkeeper Field Day and Barnfest.
Let's start with water. Let's start with where you live, what's happening because of natural gas drilling.
Craig Sautner: We live in Dimock, Pennsylvania, which is also known as "Ground Zero" because of all the contaminated wells that we have down in the area. Ours was contaminated back in September 11 of 2008.
SA: So, how did this begin? When were you first approached? When did you decide what you were going to do, and what was happening with your neighborhood and people on your street and in your community in Dimock. And, as you say, Dimock terribly is "Ground Zero." We're seeing every single thing that can and does go wrong with natural gas drilling going wrong in your home.
CS: We moved there in March of '08, and we didn't think anything about it, and then we started noticing trucks going up and down the road -- all the traffic, and then that's when we had a land man approach us, and he said he wanted us to sign a lease. And he said, "Don't worry -- all the leases are the same." He said, "All your neighbors are signing, and if you don't sign, we're just going to take the gas out from underneath you anyway." And we knew, you know ... so, what choice did we really have? So, we decided to sign the lease. But nobody ever told us any of the things ... any of the wrongs that could happen. We were never informed.
We were told that, "You won't even notice. All you'll see is a little fireplug wherever the well is, and that's about all you're going to notice." We didn't have enough land for them to put a well on our property, so we didn't worry about that. Little did we know that them drilling a well on somebody else's property could contaminate our well like it did.
SA: And speaking of that, I've been carrying around with me some of your well water, from Dimock, PA ...
CS: Don't drink it.
Julie Sautner: Don't drink it.
SA: And, you know, this -- here it is -- and the water that you brought here today looks even worse. And this water does not look anything like my well water right now, right?
SA: So, to see that yellow, murky water. And what you brought here today is even worse. So, what does this mean, then, at this point? What's happened to the quality of your life? You're in this fight now to spread the word, to share with us what can happen with fracking and with natural gas drilling.
CS: Our life is ... has been turned upside-down ... If you don't have fresh water, how can you survive? You can't survive without fresh water. So, when we noticed it happening, we called the gas company, and they said they would be out and do some things to try to see what was going on, and they said that ... I talked to them on the phone when I was at work, and they said they wanted to purge the well. You know, they said that would clear it up, probably. And I said, "Don't do it 'cause the pump is old -- it's 18 years old."