Local hydrofracking opponents take road trip to Pennsylvania to see impact

By GARY LIBERATORE

CLINTON, N.Y. (WKTV) - A group of eight Oneida County residents made the 150 mile trip south to Towanda, Pennsylvania on Saturday to hear, firsthand, the effects of the controversial natural gas drilling process called hydrofracking.

The group talked with residents who live near where that type of drilling has already taken place.

Toshia Hance of the Town of Augusta in Oneida County is one of those people who made the trip.

"This is the worst thing that can happen," Hance said. "It's chemical genocide. These people are ultimately dying due to the radiation contamination."

Hance says she wants to urge New Yorkers to stand together.

"Tell our county legislators and our town supervisors, and our assemblymen and our senators to stop it," Hance said. "We will not be considered collateral damage to the shareholders' profitability."

Bonnie Jones-Reynolds of Clinton was also one of the eight who made the trip, and will never forget the conversations she had with some of the Towanda residents.

"We were told that they are living down there in a state of great intimidation, everybody is intimidated," Jones-Reynolds said. "They're afraid, because if they speak up, their water is going to be shut off."

Reynolds is talking about what the locals down there call 'water buffaloes" - the large white water tanks brought in by the natural gas companies and put on the properties of those individuals who have had their well-water contaminated with toxic chemicals from the 'fracking' process.

They say those who have signed leases also signed a confidentiality clause.

The group from Oneida County took video of the trucks going in and out the town of Towanda on a daily basis with the toxic waste that comes up from the wells and has to be dumped at a nearby landfill.

Natural gas companies come in and offer people a monthly lease payment to drill on their property. The companies drill down several thousand feet, then drill horizontally out from there up to a mile to fracture the shale and harness the natural gas inside that shale.

Carleton Corey of New Hartford made the trip to Pennsylvania as well, and says he heard from residents in Towanda about the gas companies being known to take advantage of elderly land owners.

"This fellow talking about this 92 year old mom, in a nursing home, having them sign the contract, never contacting the daughter or the son, just the way they do things," Corey said. "And once they put in calls, they said they are not talking, we have our signatures, end of conversation."

Jones-Reynolds says the people they talked to are hoping New Yorkers can stop our legislators here before issuing permits.

"You have these individuals in Towanda and basically they're saying 'we're done. It is here. It's not going to be stopped here. We have to live with this, or we have to leave or whatever,'" Jones-Reynolds said. "Where they're getting any good feelings out of this or whatever, they really want to help New Yorkers keep this out of New York."

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released a report back on July 1 saying hydrofracking could be done safely here in New York State.

There will be more research done by the NYS DEC, as well as a series of public hearings held before permits could ever be issued.

This group of residents are hoping people will continue to call their state representatives and voice their opinions on the drilling issue and they say if at all possible, take a trip to Bradford County Pennsylvania yourself.

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