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City should ban ‘fracking’

July 16, 2011
The Inter-Mountain


On June 20, I wrote to the Elkins City Council to encourage them to take steps to ban the Marcellus gas drilling or "fracking" within the Elkins city limits and one mile outside of the city limits. This step is a pre-emptive move that will protect our water supply.

Elkins is in the process of building a new water processing plant that will provide our city and surrounding area with good, pure drinking water. Surely we do not want to find that even then our water will not be safe to drink.

The city of Morgantown is faced with a Marcellus well 1,500 feet from the intake of their municipal water plant. At this time, they are frantically working to retroactively ban this well. We would do well to ban wells in our city now before it is an issue. According to state law, the city can extend the ban to include a mile perimeter around the city if there is danger to the health of the city. Having the ban in place would protect our water if it became necessary due to drilling in our valley.

Wells to access the gas in the Marcellus Shale use fresh water filled with chemicals which remain an industrial secret. However, some chemicals can be detected by their odor and other qualities. These include sulfuric acid, which is very reactive even at low concentrations. Another gas that is emitted is methane, which is combustible. Water containing these chemicals is forced into the shale under pressure, which in turn forces the natural gas out into wells and pipelines. The water is reused several times, but is also lost into the ground water whence it makes it back to the rivers and creeks around it.

I know a man in Pennsylvania where the drilling and fracking have been going on for a couple of years. His water is filled with boron. To counter the boron, the chlorine treatment has been increased. The water authority has several times this spring issued "do not drink" warnings. Bottled water is his only recourse.

Let us move ahead and make sure our water supply remains drinkable. Let us consider the health of our citizens and ban the establishment of these wells near our drinking water.

Judy Seaman




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