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Worcester's Neighbor Pages

Westford Neighbors Group

A Letter From A Westford Neighbors Member To Governor Cuomo

Governor Cuomo,

I see that you toured Margaretville yourself to witness the flooding devastation there in the aftermath of Irene. Did any of this give you pause to think "what might have happened" if fracking had already gone forward and fracking fluid containment ponds were in place? And please don't say, "Margaretville is within the protected NYC reservoir system, so that could never have happened." (The notion that NYC and Syracuse merit protection, while the rest of us in upstate NY are expendable guinea pigs, is already infuriating enough!) Countless other towns in Greene, Schoharie, and Delaware Counties have experienced horrible flooding, and many of them are not in protected areas.

We've also seen photos of cars and trucks demolished, wrapped around trees and utility poles in other flooding from Irene; what if trucks containing fracking fluid had been swept off roads or bridges into or near rivers, or in populated business or residential districts, or near schools? What would have happened had a drill site/well pad been flooded, or a gas drilling tower been toppled by heavy winds? Do you have answers to these "what ifs"?

One answer is certainly not, "This was a freak occurrence; it's extremely rare that a flood like this happens." As recently as 2006, the Susquehanna River flooded near Binghamton, washing out a bridge on I-88, a highway that bears much truck traffic, not the least of which might be gas industry vehicles in the near future; Middleburgh has had a flood evacuation route in place near the Schoharie Creek for many years; countless rivers and creeks all over the Catskills, and at other points in Schoharie, Delaware, Otsego, and other counties in the area, routinely flood in the spring or during any large storm. (In Colliersville, Otsego County, for instance, there is a natural gas transfer station being installed RIGHT ON THE BANK of the Susquehanna, less than 50 feet from the water. What if . . . ?)

It's time to reassess the risks of fracking in light of the sensitivity of the environment and the unpredictable climate of upstate NY. It's time to put safety and environmental issues BEFORE corporate greed and the dollar signs that state government has in its eyes.

I am one of many who voted you in as governor based on notions of progressive change, and I believed in you "doing for the good of New York." I wholeheartedly commend you for advocating the passage of marriage equality in NY State. But I and many others I know will NEVER vote for you again-for this or any other higher office, be it state or national-should fracking be allowed to go forward.

Respectfully yours,

X _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

For those who are interested, this is my prepared speech to the Otsego
County Board of Representatives, July 21, 2010. Due to the meetings
time constraints, it is not exactly word for word as I said it.

Julie Solloway, Maryland, NY. My house is about one mile from the Ross1
natural gas well.

We used to have GOLD on Crumhorn Mountain. We called it WATER. It tasted great and was abundant. Numerous times before the permit was given, and before drilling began, we said there was no way they could drill on the Ross property on
Crumhorn Mountain, Maryland, NY, and not contaminate the water, forever- especially our farm. Water IS more valuable than gas. I know of 8 water wells, including ours,

that have been adversely affected since the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well began.  And, there is concern about a ninth one. This is the first natural gas well drilled with this technique, in New York State. Water wells were showing adverse affects shortly after the drilling began, which was about 2 ½ months BEFORE they fracked.
We can not drink our water anymore. People, pets and animals have been, and are, sick since shortly after the drilling began. My family is only using the water to flush the toilet and that is causing health symptoms. Often times there is a chemical smell in the bathroom. Having been forced to experience the new technique of natural gas
drilling first hand, I give you some of my experiences:
Within a month of the drilling starting, I was violently ill after drinking our water.

(Some of the symptoms were blurry vision, severe stomach cramps and collapsing.)

This is a water well that we had never had a problem with, or been sick from, since it was drilled. After this, I only used the water to wash my hands or shower. My clothes were
also washed in it. Later, I also had a severe reaction after taking a shower. My nose and
the roof of my mouth burned so badly, that at first, I didn’t even realize my tongue was swollen. On the day of the shower incident, I waited three hours, before taking a shower at another house to try to wash the contaminants off me. During this time, the County Health Department contacted the State Health Department and others, trying to find a doctor for me to go to who could help me. They could not come up with any. Both the County and State Health Departments told us no local doctor or emergency room would know what to test me for, or treat me for, concerning chemical exposure, in regard to a natural gas well. 
Because of the severe reaction after taking a shower, the State Health Department made the gas company test our water. My mother and I had reactions after the gas company ran our tap water full blast 30-45 minutes before they took water to test. When questioned as to why they ran the water like that, they admitted it didn’t have to be run at all because it was a self-cleaning artesian well.- (Their words.) At that time, we asked the gas company if they would be testing for all the chemicals, substances, etc., they used and/or could encounter while drilling the natural gas well. They said No!- they were only doing a baseline.  Now they are claiming they have tested for all the chemicals all along.
Some of the symptoms we, and others affected, have had, or continue to have,

 are: headaches, sore throats, weird body aches and pains, rashes, abnormal hair loss, blurry vision, collapsing, severe stomach pains, bloody noses, intense ear pressure, varying degrees of dizziness, burning in the nose and throat, and exhaustion from the 24 hour 7 day a week activity that went on for months. Noise was a huge problem. A lot of people were scared by the violent, thunder-like noises. There was a lot of noise from the tremendous truck and vehicle traffic. The intense noise from the drilling site was so bad that you couldn’t sleep, and if you did manage to fall asleep, you were awakened by the
noise and couldn’t get back to sleep. Among the many noises, was a noise like a very low flying plane hovering over-top of us. This was a different aggravating noise than the almost constant droning noise that you also couldn’t get away from. Explosions occurred anytime day or night. These ranged from muffled to so loud we thought a huge jet was going to hit the house. They also shook the house. The air pollution, including the stink, was so bad at times it burned noses and throats. The horses didn’t want to go out of the barn. Sometimes you would go outside to do something, and the obnoxious stench was so bad you had to go back in the house. Going back in the house didn’t necessarily mean you got completely away from the awful smells. There were a lot of unidentified and unfamiliar offensive odors. Smells that were, and/or are still being experienced, include a wide degree of varying sulfur smells, along with smells something like: rotten egg,
swamp, matchhead, egg sandwich, nail polish, formaldehyde, and hydrochloric acid, among others. There can be, has been, and for those still doing laundry at home,  continues to be, an awful smell while doing laundry. People stink after taking a shower.

There was tremendous truck and vehicle traffic, day and night. They often deviated from their agreed upon designated route for heavy vehicles.  Local residents experienced tailgating, interrupted flow of traffic, being forced off the road, and were often woken up by the traffic. Other negative impacts, noticed since the drilling began, include, but
aren’t limited to, dead animals, peculiar looking and odd growing plants, shockwaves, and strange looking water, such as discolored, and/or odd things throughout it from surface to bottom. We were unable to do very much of our haying last year because of the
gas drilling. The little we did, we all had symptoms shortly afterwards. Symptoms were also experienced after repairing, for an hour, the fence that is only about 15 feet from Potato Creek. The horses didn’t want to, and many times refused to, drink the water
from Potato Creek, even when it was brought to them in a bucket. Since shortly after the drilling began, I have been dealing with sick dogs, sick horses and sick people, including me. I thought allowing the drilling of the Ross1 natural gas well would be devastating. I didn’t realize how bad it would be, the magnitude of the affects, or how quickly water contamination would occur. I used to say, the more you learn about natural gas drilling, the worse it gets. NOW I SAY, THE MORE YOU EXPERIENCE NATURAL GAS DRILLING, THE WORSE IT GETS.
The State Health Department has given us, and others affected, ridiculous excuses of causes of health symptoms such as: it must be your shampoo, it must be the sink traps, it must be dust. At another household, the State Health Department claimed they had used too much water. This was last year when we had all that rain. The State Health
Department and the gas company both insist there isn’t any reason why we can’t drink the water. Several people, including a New York State Health Department worker,
said it is very likely that the chemical or substance I am reacting to, will not show up in a water test; i.e. there is not enough of it to show up in a water test, but there is enough of it to cause me to have a reaction to it. I will never be able to use our water again.
Would you let your kids and grandchildren drink my water? I won’t.

I hope no one in this room has to go through what we are going through
We don?t call our WATER gold anymore. We call it POISON. Thank you.   

This is relevant to a lot of New York State and beyond. It concerns people besides those in Otsego County.
Note: The Ross1 natural gas well is approximately 11.5 miles from the Catskill/Delaware (NYC) Watershed. The closest adversely affected water well we KNOW about, is approximately 9.5 miles from this watershed. The Ross1 is also about 1.8 miles from the Susquehanna River. On the other side, it is about 1.4 miles to the Schenevus Creek, an A rated trout stream that empties into the Susquehanna River. A small, unnamed creek
which originates at the pond/wetland bordering the Ross1 wellpad, and
Potato Creek flow into Schenevus Creek. Also note, the proposed Ross2 site is at least 3 miles closer to this NYC watershed, than the Ross1. It will probably be within 8.5 miles of the watershed. The proposed Ross2 is very close to Schenevus Creek and a propane pipeline. This pipeline blew up in the hamlet of North Blenheim, March 13, 1990, killing two people and demolishing ten homes. (1-6) On January 25, 2004, an explosion caused by a leak in a valve, in this same pipeline, blew up a house and caused an evacuation in
Harpersfield, NY. (3, 4, 6, 7) On August 27, 2010, a leak in this same pipeline caused an evacuation near Gilboa. NY. (5) In July 2010, the gas company was taking baseline water tests in preparation for drilling the Ross2. As far as we know no permit has been granted or applied for to the DEC.

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