BY STACI WILSON
WPX Energy planned to remove a temporary water supply hooked up to a Franklin Forks home Friday morning but was denied access to the equipment from the homeowner.
WPX spokesperson Susan Oliver said the company was following through with a plan for removing the temporary water tank from the Hadlick residence.
After a 16-month investigation, DEP found earlier this year that natural gas drilling was not responsible for the contaminated water in the community located about five miles north of Montrose.
The Tulsa, Okla. company decided the Hadlick’s and the other two families experiencing issues needed a permanent solution to the water problems instead of the temporary system put in place by the gas driller, Oliver said.
The company began supplying water to three residents in March 2012, those deliveries were halted in the months following the DEP investigation.
Oliver said she contacted the three families with water problems – two of them in person, and one through the family’s attorney – on August 1 and offered to help the residents bring their water wells back online.
“The families decided they didn’t want to hook up their wells and would acquire their own water supplies,” Oliver said. “It’s taken us 90 days to get to today.”
According to Oliver, WPX planned to haul the remaining water in the tank from the site, remove the existing equipment, wait for the Hadlick’s contractor to install the new equipment and then fill the new tank with clean, potable water.
She said that according to Hadlick’s attorney, WPX would be allowed to go on site at 10 a.m.
But the hour came and went, as about 12 anti-gas activists held signs and prohibited Oliver and WPX’s Scott Miller from coming onto the Hadlick property.
Anti-gas activist Vera Scroggins said, “No trespassing here. Industry is not allowed here.”
In addition to the protestors, about one dozen Franklin Twp. residents were at the scene.
Oliver pointed out that many of the protestors were not from the local community.
Environmental organizer Isaac Silberman-Gorn, of Citizen Action of New York helped to organize the demonstration.
“We’re here to support the families whose water has been contaminated,” he said. “You have here in Pennsylvania, a regulatory agency that’s asleep at the wheel.”
Silberman-Gorn added, “(DEP) says natural gas drilling did not contaminate the water but they won’t tell us what did.”
She said the Franklin Twp. supervisors had been kept up-to-date on the situation by WPX.
“There have been 80 tests to determine the water quality in Franklin Forks and 55 tests on the well casings in the two closest wells,” Oliver said. The closest well is over 4,000-feet away, and the next closest is 7,000 from the three homes situated along Rt. 29.
Franklin Twp. resident Kelly Harding said she grew up in the community.
“Many of us have lived here all of our lives,” Harding said. “We know there’s methane in the water. I feel for the families who have bad water.”
Homeowner Tammy Hadlick said the system WPX plans to take away that holds over 1,000 gallons of water would be exchanged with a 325-gallon tank the family received as a donation from a Dimock resident.
She said that the family of about seven that resides at the home uses about 250 gallons of water each day. “What big deal is it to leave the buffalo there?” Hadlick asked.
Hadlick remained inside her home while the situation along the roadside became heated at times.
As tempers appear to flare during one exchange between a representative from the industry-funded Energy in Depth and anti-gas activist Bill Huston, of New York, Scroggins said, “Don’t say anything more to these people. They’re pro-gassers; they’re uninformed.”
Franklin Forks resident Jim Schreck said he came to the home because he knew the demonstration was taking place. He said he’s read federal and state government research that says hydraulic fracturing does not cause contamination.
“I wanted them to give me information and present facts so I could make a calm decision,” Schreck said. “I’m a little disappointed about the lack of information.”