Professor says drilling changes daily lifestyles

WHEELING – Carrie Hahn moved with her family from the South Hills area of Pittsburgh to rural Lawrence County, Pa. in 2008 to escape the commotion of big city life, but the Marcellus Shale boom soon turned her country life into an “industrial zone.”

“This is not going to fix itself. You have to get involved to fix this,” she said Thursday while speaking at the Uncharted Territory-Community Health Impacts Associated with Shale Gas Drilling panel at Wheeling Jesuit University.

Doug Shields, former president of Pittsburgh City Council, worked to ban fracking within city limits during his term in office. He told the approximately 30 audience members to use their right to freedom of speech to stand up to major gas companies.

“You are in a democracy. It requires of you a rigorous attention to what your government does,” he said in noting he believes certain elected officials are willing to allow gas companies to move forward with little oversight.

“They just came in and told us we had no say in the matter,” Shields continued. “There were no public hearings – no information for the local people about what was going on.”

Duquesne University science professor John Stolz said potentially radioactive substances such as strontium and barium have been found at high levels in some of the briny wastewater used in fracking. He also said it is unlikely that those living in the Utica and Marcellus shale formations will see a decline in drilling anytime soon.

“The wells burn out very quickly. In order for the companies to meet their production levels, they have to keep drilling and drilling and drilling,” he said in noting that much of the production from each shale well occurs shortly after it is fracked.