The West Virginia Host Farms Program for Environmental Research

by Duane Nichols on March 30, 2012

The West Virginia Host Farms Program — A Partnership Program Linking WV Landowners to the Environmental Community for the Study of the Impact of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development

The West Virginia Host Farms Program is a volunteer-based initiative. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for the environmental community to study the impact of Marcellus shale natural gas drilling in the state. This would include academic researchers, journalists, environmental scientists, public policy and environmental law professionals, and advocacy groups, among others who desire to learn more about the environmental impact of Marcellus shale drilling in WV.  

West Virginia landowners who opt to participate in the program become volunteer “host farms.”  These are people who are living on or in close proximity to land where Marcellus wells are already drilled, drilling and hydrofracking is currently taking place, or where such activity is proposed to take place in the near future. Land owners living adjacent to, or in close proximity to natural gas compressor stations are also participants.  Through a managed database of participant landowners, the WV Host Farms Program will serve as a point of contact between those in the environmental community seeking suitable locations for study of Marcellus operations and conditions in WV and those who are landowners able to provide them.  

The WV Host Farms Program is a grassroots effort. We are a group of concerned WV landowners impacted by Marcellus drilling in our area who are networking together.  Our goal is to promote greater opportunities for environmental researchers across the country to access West Virginia to study Marcellus shale drilling.   

Please read our web-site here.  Contributions are solicited at this time.

The WV Host Farms Program, P.O. Box 214, West Union, WV   26456


E-mail Contact:

Diane Pitcock, 304-873-1932 or 304-873-3764

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sharon March 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I live across the WV border in Greene County, PA. Eight horizontal wells are being drilled at this time on our property and will be fracked soon. We have three huge ponds and a compressor station close by. Pipelines cross over our property. Being the wells are in the process of being drilled I am not sure of the environmental issues I will be facing.


Yuri Gorby April 2, 2012 at 11:07 am

You should immediately take samples from your ponds, streams and any wells you may have on your property and have them tested by a certified lab. You can take daily samples yourself and analyze them for conductivity using a simple conductivity pen or meter that are available online. This test will not tell you what contaminants are in your water, it will just let you know if something changes abruptly, at which time you should take samples and again send them to a certified lab for testing. And you should prepare yourself for significant changes in quality of life. You have probably already noticed noise and light pollution during pad construction. The drilling will be load and continuous, and then the truck traffic will pick up to deliver fracking chemicals and then to remove backflow and produced water waste. These are quite toxic and you should be alert for spills or intentional releases during transportation or disposal. Sadly, there is a predictable series of events ahead of you. Document everything with images and video. [Also, it is good to keep a diary with dates and a signature on each entry. d.g.n.]


RD Blakeslee April 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

There is very little danger from fracking per se (contrary to the hype we see in the blogs)

Almost all the risk is from accidents at the surface. Watch the drillsites if you have access to them and look for leaks of gas and/or liquids where the well bore comes out of the ground.


Duane Nichols April 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Many IMPACTS are seen, or smelled, or heard, or tasted. Others are invisible, odorless, silent and never tasted. The crushed roads are seen, the sediment runoff is visible, the land subsidence is often evident, the burning flares are blinding, the tall superstructure is overwhelming, and the row after row of truck trailers seems to never end. Stains on the ground come from organic spills and leaks and infra-red cameras show the vapors escaping from vents, tanks and pipes.

Holding ponds may only contain water, others have drill fluids, and the liners are often a problem. Gaseous methane and ethane are odorless but sometimes there are sulfur compounds that add odor. Truck exhaust fumes are often detected via the nose, if not a cough! The noises extend from diesel engines to pumps and compressors to relief values and flares.

Sub-surface organics are sometimes released (methane and higher hydrocarbons) to pass thru fissures to aquifers or water wells. Inorganic compounds in the soil or rock matrix can be exposed to leaching due to the ground disturbances. Yet these are not visible to the naked eye. Further, we do not see all the fumes from vents, from leaks, and from flares but they are present. And, since private homes may be very close by, there are real and present risks for the residents of the farms, of the hollows, of the valleys, and of the counties.

Duane Nichols, April 1, 2012


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