As natural gas wells spring up like noxious neighbors across the U.S., rural residents and public officials are increasingly worried about emerging health threats in their communities. The tsunami of gas drilling operations in bucolic areas brings more than increased truck traffic and congestion; locals are now complaining of health problems ranging from asthma and migraines to air and ground water contaminated by carcinogens like benzene and xylene.
NRDC’s Amy Mall has blogged that top national health experts are concerned the dizzying rush of new fracking operations is leaving communities vulnerable to a growing toxic assault. Perhaps nowhere is this battle more intense than in Pennsylvania’s rich Marcellus shale region, where tens of thousands of wells are poised to be dug in the fertile farmlands and mountains of the Keystone State.
NRDC Journey OnEarth producer Roshini Thinakaran and cameraman/editor Zak Wenning reported on one particularly contentious fracking fight in Washington County, PA, where tensions between local citizens, gas drillers and politicians have boiled over into scalding public debates.