What’s Forcing the Chaffees out of their Home?
In Pennsylvania, families continue to be forced out of their homes due to shale gas development, sometimes due to water and air contamination, with associated health impacts. This is the story of Tom Chaffee and his wife Carol, a case that has recently been published in the Rocket Courier of Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, in Bradford County.
The Chaffees live in a comfortable home in this quiet Warren Township village located about five miles from LeRaysville. They built their home about 20 years ago, and lived in a nearby mobile home for 20 years before that.
But everything changed for the Chaffees not long after a gas drilling rig was erected some 200 yards from their home early in 2011.
“We started noticing that our water looked different,” Tom Chaffee recalls. “ At first I didn’t pay any attention to it really, but it got my attention when a glass of water started to look like a glass of Alka Seltzer.”
After the fracking process started at the nearby well is when Tom says things got even worse. “I started to get sick,” he says … Tom says his ailments include: piercing headaches, his face feeling prickly, his teeth hurting and an odd taste in his mouth. “My lips became swollen and quivered,” Tom said. Tom’s other symptoms include a racing heart, and difficulty breathing. “When whatever is going on with the air inside this house gets real bad, I struggle to breathe,” Tom says.
When Tom leaves his house, the symptoms go away.
“I think what is making me sick is they are letting off bad gasses up there,” Tom says looking in the direction of the drilling rig. “It’s terrible. We have to get out of our house when these things happen. We leave for about five hours and two-hours after we’re out of here, I feel fine,” Tom says.
The problems at his home have resulted in Tom visiting a hospital emergency room several times, but his symptoms lessen when he’s out of his house. “After I’m in the emergency room for a couple hours, I clear right up,” he says.
Talisman, the company responsible for the rig, and The Department of Environmental Protection are investigating the problems at the Chaffees’ home. In the meantime:
…The situation is clearly going from bad to worse for the Chaffees. Last Sunday, March 10 they moved out of their home and into their daughter’s home. “I passed out a couple times,” Tom said, “and we decided enough is enough.”“We feel that they’ve ruined our property,” Tom said. “… As it stands right now our property is worth nothing.”“We don’t want to have to leave this home. “ Tom continued. “For God sakes, the Chaffees settled on this land. They were among the first settlers in Warren Center.”