This is perhaps the most powerful testimonial ever given about the health impacts of hydro-fracking for natural gas:
30-year old Jaime Frederick started to get sick shortly after moving into her home near Youngstown, Ohio. She lay on the bathroom floor, vomiting with such intensity that blood vessels in her cheeks and eyes burst. Her gall bladder failed, and was removed. She got a kidney infection and an intestinal infection that became "as large as a grapefruit," and had five surgeries to repair the damage.
Doctors were baffled. One told her she was just under stress and possibly dehydrated, and that she should drink more water. She began drinking as much as two gallons of water a day.
"I now know that that advice nearly killed me," she says ruefully.
It wasn't until convoys of drilling trucks for a hydro-fracking operation began rolling down her quiet country road that she learned the cause of her ailments: a neighbor had leased his land for hydro-fracking several years earlier, and there were ten wells located within a half-mile of her home. A Tier III test of her well water revealed the presence of barium, strontium and the solvent toluene.
She has stopped drinking the well water and now says "I'm feeling much better these days," although she still has kinetic tremors in her hands.
But the worst side effect has been her inability to safely carry a child without fear of hemorraghing.
"Even if I could somehow still give birth, knowing the high risk of birth defects caused by the chemicals I drink, I will never take that risk ... and I have a message for you, Governor Kasich. You may have taken my safety and my property value. You may have taken my gall bladder, and you may have taken my ability to have children. But you will not take my voice."
Next week, hundreds of Ohioans concerned about fracking will descend on Columbus for a four-day conference called Dont Frack Ohio.
The conference, featuring "Gasland" filmmaker Josh Fox and author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben includes workshops and three days of trainings in non-violent direct action at the Ohio State Urban Arts Center in downtown Columbus, followed by a rally and People's Assembly on Sunday, June 17 which will take over the Ohio Statehouse. The rally begins at 11:00 a.m. at McPherson Commons (a.k.a. Arch Park) in downtown Columbus.
Conference organizer Danny Berchenko says "We're going to show Gov. Kasich and the legislators bought out by the oil and gas industry that there are consequences for selling out on the health and safety of the people of Ohio.
"There is a growing people-powered movement rising up to stop fracking from destroying our communities and our climate. Since they've failed to do their job of protecting our communities and our most precious resources -- the water we drink and the air we breathe -- we're going to show them how to do their job.
"We will fill the statehouse with a people's congress that passes people's legislation to protect us from the dangers of fracking and move towards a truly clean, renewable energy economy that puts Ohioans back to work in safe, sustainable jobs. We'll walk away from this action with a strengthened and emboldened movement that won't stop until the frackers do."
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