There are no official records of contamination caused by fracking. That is the story pushed by frackers, and other persons who support the fracking industry. However there is a twisted logic to this truth that is nicely highlighted in the case of the Hallowich family v Range Resources.
The Hallowich’s lived in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, just next to a site where Range Resources drilled for shale gas. Having suffered from burning eyes, sore throats, headaches, and earaches due to the contaminated air and water supplies, they were offered a $750,000 settlement to relocate their home.
As with many such cases, the settlement deal included a non-disclosure agreement that prevented not just Stephanie and Chris Hallowich from speaking about the case or their experiences, for the rest of their lives, but also their young children, aged just 7 and 10.
The Hallowich family. Stephanie, Chris, and their children Alie, and Nate. (National Geographic)
This inclusion of their under-aged children is an unprecedented step, and one that only serves to further strengthen the reign of silence that fracking companies are creating.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it was reported that Peter Villari, the Hallowich’s solicitor, claimed that in his “30 years of practicing law he had never seen a nondisclosure agreement that included minor children.”
Grist explains that anyone negatively affected by fracking, in terms of quality of life or health, or even property value, are offered settlement deals by the fracking companies that are virtually impossible to turn down, and require utter silence about all experiences with the fracking industry. This prevents the natural spread of awareness of the potential risks of fracking.
Climate Progress wrote that it becomes “a choice between receiving compensation for damage done to one’s health and property, or publicizing the abuses that caused the harm. Virtually no one can forgo compensation, so their stories go untold.”
Bruce Baizel, the Energy Program Director at Earthworks, told Climate Progress that “the refrain in the industry is, this is a safe process. There’s no record of contamination. That whole claim would be undermined if these things were public.”
Sharon Wilson, also from Earthworks, said that “these gag orders are the reason drillers can give testimony to Congress and say there are no documented cases of contamination. And then elected officials can repeat that.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com