On a breezy day, filled with lots of sunshine, I had the opportunity to go to Barnesville, Ohio to experience the ravages of the fracking industry through the lens of a FLIR camera.
I have heard testimony from residents who live near oil and gas development. They talk about their health and the health of their loved ones as being compromised, even destroyed. So I thought I had a clear idea about how the sites would be. But I was mistaken.
Here’s my experience:
As I stood in the middle of the road, I gaped at the chaos that surrounded me. The pavement was destroyed by massive trucks that haul equipment around the countryside. Trees were chopped down to make room for new access roads. Cows grazed with storage tanks in the fields behind them. And the noise made by the hydraulic arm pounding down into the earth over and over again was deafening.
Our camera operator, Sharon, pulled away from the screen she was intently watching to show me plumes of chemicals pouring out of an otherwise benign looking pipe rising from the hillside. Sharon said the plumes didn’t show up very well.
But I saw them.
I was emotionally sick with the thought that those plumes were only a fraction of what was actually being expelled into the air – into the air of children, pregnant women and whole communities. Yet, not as physically sick as the headache and ear pain that started while standing on location – the drill constantly buzzing in the middle of the Ohio countryside.
A local resident who joined us on the trip looked at me sympathetically. She sadly informed me that these symptoms are part of their lives now.
How is this ok?
If I was suffering after only a few hours, how miserable must it be for those who can’t get into their car and drive away from the towers, the trucks, the plumes, the hidden toxic chemicals that have invaded their daily lives?
After I threw up from the hideous headache that would not abate, I was flooded with questions:
What have we done? How safe is our water, and the food grown on what was once clean agricultural land and is now a toxic industrial wasteland?
I knew the answers. I could feel how unsafe and unhealthy fracking is. (Tweet this) And now you can too.