Mining a Rich Vein or Drilling a Deep Shale

by S. Tom Bond on July 8, 2013

Contaminated Water

Mining a Rich Vein or Drilling a Deep Shale

By S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Jane Lew, Lewis County, WV

There are thousands of stories about people suffering injury by shale drilling.  Some you hear directly, some you read and some you hear at meetings.  Some industry and government officials palm them off as “perceptions.” Most ignore them, the way one beast ignores another in pain.
There are so many complaints various genres become apparent: skin effects – loss of hair, skin rash; confusion; breathing effcts – cough, asthma, bloody discharge from the nose; whole body effects – weakness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, changes in blood pressure.
The way the industry and officials  get around these mines a rich vein of human psychology.  People with sociopathic tendency, also known as antisocial personality disorder, another name for the characteristics, typically have little empathy and often disregard the rights, wishes and feelings of others.  They are frequently driving toward some goal of their own choosing, and manipulate others to get there.  This is a clinical definition of the extreme.

Sociopathy  may be exhibited in less extreme form. It is a personality dimension. The common word to describe such characteristics when less extreme is “tough” or “hard boiled.” There are quite literally millions who show this inability to empathize or to cooperate with others.   The estimate is one in twenty in the United States show this behavior to some degree.  A list of extreme sociopathic descriptors is here.

A similar estimate of the frequency  that can be identified as having this characteristic in some degree is here.

Some examples of sociopathic behavior connected to shale drilling this author has heard follow.  A doctor in southwest-central West Virginia told a female patient who lived near a drilling platform that her symptoms were “all in her head.”  This lead to her husband divorcing her.
A well was drilled in Pennsylvania near the top of a hill.  When the water well of the family living nearest went bad, they sued, and before the company would loose in court, the company settled, with a nondisclosure clause.  People living at the bottom of the hill developed symptoms because they were not informed.  No good neighbor policy there!
Incomplete water analysis or incomplete reporting of results by state Departments of Environmental Protection.  This is a common complaint.  In one case the result was not sent out for a year.  When the harmed family complained they were told it “could not be sent out until after the election.”
County commission officials of Bradford County Pennsylvania “blew off” (ignored) reports of contaminated wells when no one could give them a exact count.

Some companies fill “water buffalos” (which supply clean water a householder can dip out an use) when complaints occur, then later discontinue the service, leaving the householder to fend for themselves.  In areas without “city water” this leaves residental property almost unsalable.
Pennsylvania’s Act 13 restricts physician free treatment of symptoms and interaction with patients and other doctors when the physician believes the problem to be caused by shale drilling.  Is this a sociopathic legislature?  Limiting medical treatment is certainly sociopathic.
A DEP telling a family their water test shows contaminants and they are now responsible for anyone who is harmed by drinking it, although the well was ruined by drilling.  Is this a sociopathic departmental policy?  What about the department personnel?
On a larger scale, EPA is being forced to drop several studies by politicians who receive marching orders from the fossil fuel industry. For example, withdrawal from the Pavillion fracking study when they found 7 of 19 wells had 2-butoexythanol phosphate, that experts say can cause kidney failure, toxicity to the spleen, liver cancer and fertility problems.

 Climate change due to human activity is agreed upon by 98% of the expert scientists  who have studied it, but it is common to deny climate change in the Congress, where 155 members have taken over $51 M from energy producers.

There are the DEP’s or similar state offices of in each state, which act as a Department of Energy Production, facilitating production, rather than protecting anything or anyone.  They record locations and send out personnel to minimize complaints.
Pennsylvania has its Act 13,  Maryland, with its highly vulnerable recreation and second home industry, can’t decide to stand up to an industry that surely would ruin those industries, and Ohio accepts the waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Sociopathy is the most widely recognized personality disorder.  Shale drilling doesn’t reach the extremes (yet) of the Coal Barron era, and fortunately, for people, the near mass slavery conditions of the coal camps are not required.  There won’t be anything as shameful as the battle of Blair Mountian.  However that era did not threaten to make the earth’s population drop by orders of magnitude because of environmental effects, either.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet A. Monroe July 9, 2013 at 6:13 am

“We have problems with that,” said Elam Herr, an official with the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. A township can’t exclude drilling under zoning laws, but local officials should be able to say where it takes place and keep it out of areas zoned for residential use, he said.


S. Thomas Bond July 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

These guys (fracking companies) want to be supreme. Obviously there is a vast area in these shale beds. Even the ridiculously low recovery rate, well below 10%, lowest in the petroleum industry by far, doesn’t demand exploitation of densely populated aras, recreation areas, cemeteries, or national parks. Nothing is sacred. Being supreme is part of the rich vein of sociopathy these guys mine.


Duane Nichols July 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Have you seen all those expensive advertisements from the natural gas industry, showing on TV, appearing in many diverse magazines and newspapers. These companies must have as much money to burn as they have natural gas.

See the ads here, or not:


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