One family's life in the gas patch of Bradford County, Pennsylvania

I've blogged before about the water contamination linked to natural gas production in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Companies have been fined for contaminating the water there, both groundwater and creeks, but there continue to be reports of contamination.

Today I spoke on the phone to Jodie Simons, a mom in West Burlington Township. Her story is a very upsetting tale of what is happening to some families living in the gas patch. The first well near Jodie’s home was drilled in 2007. Within six months, five of her horses died. According to Jodie, “The vet could not explain this rash of horse deaths in such a short time period.” In 2008, Jodie was pregnant, went into early labor, and tragically lost her baby. Also that year, a number of pheasants, ducks, chickens, and turkeys on her farm died, and a pig went from around 500 pounds to 100 pounds in a two week period, continually vomiting, and then died. Dozens of animals died; only a few are now left. She consulted multiple veterinarians and none could provide an explanation for the symptoms. Jodie now wonders if these problems were related to water quality.

In 2009, a second well was drilled near the Simons’ home. Jodie reports that it was re-fracked in February, 2011. Shortly thereafter, their tap water turned gray and hazy. After the water changed, both Jodie and her young son began getting severe rashes with oozing blisters. Jodie’s 10-year-old daughter had to be taken to the hospital for torrential nosebleeds that would not stop, nausea and severe headaches. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) tested the water and found very high levels of methane and other contaminants in the water, but said it was safe to drink. Since the Simons family stopped using any of their water, these symptoms have gone away.

Jodie reports that her water still “stinks awfully; it is a scummy, rotten, nasty smell...”

The oil and gas company that owns the nearby wells originally offered to supply the Simons’ with water for only 3 to 6 months – and only if they signed a document stating that the company did not cause any problems. The Simons family declined to sign. In mid-May, the company began providing bottled water, but there is no fresh water coming out of their faucets. Jodie reports that four neighbors also have water contamination. 

Thanks to Jodie Simons for sharing her story.