Another family's tragedy in Wetzel County, West Virginia

I have blogged before about Wetzel County, West Virginia. About stream destruction and drinking water contamination. Tragedies continue to occur there. A recent article in The Pocahontas Times profiles the experiences of the Teal family--a story that has much in common with others we hear from around the country.

  • Mr. Teal came home one day to find five acres of his land cleared and excavated, without any advance notice. Those five acres included his family's garden and access to his woodlot. Even though he no longer has use of those five acres, he is required to pay property tax on them.
  • Drilling of the gas wells on the pad took six months of round-the-clock work with excessive noise and light. Before drilling, Mr. Teal was told that there would only be small wellheads on his property, but after the drilling, there are also tanks and separators.
  • Before drilling he was told that he would get free natural gas for his own use, but after drilling was told he would have to buy a $30,000 piece of equipment for that to happen.
  • Before drilling, Mr. Teal had clean drinking water for 35 years. Now his water is contaminated, and he has to haul and pay for water to drink and bathe.

Drilling is supposed to bring economic benefits, but it doesn't for people like Mr. Teal who do not own the mineral rights beneath their land. And the unemployment rate in Wetzel County has only increased since drilling began, from seven percent in 2006 to 10.9 percent in July, 2011.

Because many communities are facing new drilling proposals, NRDC recently launched Don't Get Fracked, a toolkit for citizens around the country looking for sources of information on the permitting and drilling processes, legal rights, environmental information, health resources, local organizations working on these issues, and more.