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Press Release: Butler County Spill; Farmer Blockades Fracking Trucks in Jefferson County

February 23, 2012

Even as Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission investigates a dozen different drllling-related spills in a dozen different creeks in Connoquenessing Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania (new spills in the past two months), Rex Energy has just announced it will remove 6 more families’ water buffaloes next week, depriving families of clean replacement water. One of those families reports health impacts and witnesses say their water, which used to run clear, clean and abundant, has turned “bright red.” Another neighbor died at the age of 49 a few weeks ago after first reporting “rashes all over his body” last September and after being diagnosed with leukemia in December. He never received replacement water.

Over 250 people have now written an emergency letter to the EPA demanding clean safe replacement water for the dozen families whose replacement water is being or has already been cut off by Rex Energy. EPA is also being urged to investigate air impacts and surface water impacts; at least two families are reporting having been made sick by fumes. The EPA press office said yesterday they are “taking the situation very seriously.” The letter to EPA, which anyone can sign on to, is here

Below is a hasty press release Protecting Our Waters put out on Monday, after a spill was reported on Crab Run Road. We also updated press contacts about a Jefferson County farmer’s one-man direct action, the Bennett Blockade. Bennett’s action should continue to get attention so that heavy big rig gas drilling trucks will face real consequences when they repeatedly, arrogantly and willfully break the law.

Monday, February 21, 2012

For Immediate Release
Jefferson County Witness: Stephen Cleghorn c 814-932-6761

A Wild Day in Butler County: Drilling-related Spill Threatens Crab Run Creek
Jefferson County Resident Brings Water Buffalo to Assist Impacted People in Butler County; Witnesses “Bennett Blockade”

Evans City, PA “It’s been a wild day already this morning. I got a call at 7:45 AM from a gentleman reporting a chemical spill coming right of the side of the hillside by the Grossick Well. You can see it on Crab Run Road, off of Woodlands Road. That’s a Rex Energy site. I’ve talked to two witnesses now,” said Janet McIntyre, a Connoquenessing Township resident surrounded by Rex Energy gas drilling and fracking operations in Butler County.

“It’s this gray gluck coming out of the side of the mountain. It may be running into Crab Run Creek. It’s running alongside the ditches, which go into the creek. It’s running off the hillside in two places,” Janet reported. “Apparently they (Rex Energy) are trying to stop it from running into the creek.”

Janet has previously reported that her own water has come foaming and discolored out of her tap on two occasions in 2011, causing vomiting, rashes and other problems for her family; one dog died. She has reported the water problems to Rex Energy, PA DEP, and to the EPA. Other residents nearby, including Kim McEvoy, have also reported contaminated water and foul, sickening air. Protecting Our Waters’ Director Iris Marie Bloom said, after a visit to the Grossick Well on Woodlands Road on February 4th, 2012 (the same one with the chemical spill right now) “Breathing the foul gasses being vented off the Grossick Well for 60 seconds was unbearable; I almost vomited after being exposed for just one minute.” Bloom reported the incident to EPA, with no response.

Sickening Air in Butler County
Another Butler County resident reported via email that his wife became sickened for several days after inhaling foul air 1/4 mile away from a gas processing facility in the Connoquenessing area. Joseph P McMurray said that on December 8th, “my wife drove near the Sarsen plant as she was driving home from her job. She was on Upper Harmony Road just East of 528/Prospect Road when her car filled up with a noxious chemical odor. She quickly turned off the heater in her car. Within seconds the back of her head was numb, indicative of adrenal overload. These few seconds of exposure left her in a weakened state for several days; it seems evident that her immune system took quite a hit.” The EPA website listed the Sarsen plant was listed as “permanently closed” due to noxious uncontrolled emissions on that same day, but has since been renamed. Multiple residents, including Janet McIntyre, report a high level of activity, including flaring of gasses, at the site for several weeks as of today.

Contaminated Water in Butler County
Farmer Stephen Cleghorn, who lives an hour and a half away in Jefferson County, is right now in the process of bringing his own water buffalo, a large plastic container which holds 450 gallons of water, to the McIntyre family, which was one of ten known families for which Rex Energy had been providing clean replacement water. Six families have kept their water buffalo replacement water. But last month Rex Energy removed the water buffaloes, and stopped delivering all but a few gallons of bottled drinking water for four families including the McIntyre and McEvoy families, which have been outspoken about the contaminated water and air. Rex plans to discontinue even the bottled drinking water deliveries to the McIntyre and McEvoy families on February 29th.

More information:
Butler County water and air problems
Details about the McIntyre family
Kim McEvoy’s letter to Governor Corbett
A citizens’ call to action supporting the Butler County families’ need for clean water and EPA oversight

Bennet Blockade: Jefferson County Farmer Fed Up with Fracking Trucks
Meanwhile, this week farmer Stephen Cleghorn of Jefferson County witnessed a neighboring farmer blockading big gas well drilling trucks. “People are getting pretty fed up with how these driller operate,” he said. One photo and a complete report on the blockade is here.

More photos are available from Stephen Cleghorn.

Stephen Cleghorn, Paradise Gardens and Farm 814-568-1207Photos available from:

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