Meanwhile, two miles over the hill on the poor side of town, several families in the Woodlands area of Connoquenessing Twp. have been without potable water since Feb. 29, when Rex Energy had water buffaloes removed from the area, with hundreds of gallons of this precious resource being spilled on the ground in the process. These families must now rely on weekly shipments of donated bottled water delivered by area churches for drinking and for cooking, for brushing their teeth and washing their faces.
And while Rex's frack-water pipeline was put on the fast track, the “feasibility study” for a water LIFE line to The Woodlands has experienced numerous unexplained delays that have families there on edge. One wonders if the Woodlands residents will get the discount rate, if/when a water line is ever extended to their area. Clearly the DEP is not mandating that ANYTHING be done with this situation.
Where is our sense of priorities?
One might wonder why the residents of The Woodlands go through the ordeal of depending on weekly “water drives” for water when both Rex Energy and the PA DEP have told them their water is safe to drink.
One word: health.
Soon after Rex Energy began its drilling operations in the area, the well water at several residences in The Woodlands “coincidentally” began to go bad. People got sick from drinking the water, some seriously. After receiving complaints of groundwater contamination, Rex Energy provided these residents with water buffaloes while THEY investigated the complaints (another example of the fox guarding the henhouse). After drinking the clean water from the water buffaloes, the residents stopped getting sick. When the DEP told them their water was “safe to drink,” they resumed drinking their well-water and started getting sick again. Some were even told by their doctors not to drink their well-water. So they depend on donated bottled water and whatever they can afford to buy on their own. Their health is worth the ordeal.
Both Rex Energy and the PA DEP insist that drilling had “nothing to do” with water contamination in the Woodlands area. Rex has produced “evidence” of same via testimony from a hydrogeologist that is totally ignorant of the physics of hydraulic fracturing. Further, Dr. Bernard Goldstein, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health, claims in a February 2012 Associated Press article that the strange mixture of chemicals found in one resident's post-drilling well-water test results point to either multiple sources of contamination or an industry that uses many chemicals. Rex Energy is the only industry in the local area. The DEP suggested that its own lab may have caused the contamination, in which case, says Dr. Goldstein, the DEP has an obligation to re-test the water. “DEP cannot just simply walk away.”
But the DEP has walked away, as has Rex Energy, as have state, county and township officials, leaving the residents of The Woodlands in the lurch.
Many of the residents of The Woodlands are low-income residents, “les miserables,” the expendables – sacrificed so that we may have our illusory “energy independence,” and the gas industry and a select group of landowners may have their profits.
The entire situation is abhorrent.