Mollie was a full-time sales manager with a bank until she became very ill. “Every day I went to work with bad headaches. I could barely keep up with my job,” she says. “I finally had to go on short-term disability last June thinking I had some crazy illness: I felt fatigued all the time and developed a nasty red rash all over my body. Now I have severe pain everywhere and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. And my adrenal glands have been severely affected, which makes my whole body out of whack, like it’s shutting down.”
She isn’t the only person sick. Her husband Dan is having respiratory issues. Mollie says that about six months ago Dan began having difficulties breathing at night, like COPD. And her neighbor is having even more problems breathing: he is under a doctor’s care.
Mollie just came back from seeing the chief of endocrinology at the Cleveland Clinic. She is trying to find answers to her medical problems but it almost seems like doctors are reluctant to talk about fracking and how it relates to health issues. Energy attorney Lance Astrella said that "It takes many years for a lot of these illnesses to develop, and local doctors and lawyers have no idea of what they are dealing with. Gas corporations could one day find themselves facing tremendous liability.”
When Mollie was researching whether there was any connection with adrenal problems and fracking, she came across the SW Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project or SWPA-EHP.
“Along with great advice and information, SWPA gave us air monitors for our home. We live at a low spot in this development and everything blows onto the front porch from all directions. For the most part the air monitors indicate that we are safe, but one day my neighbor pointed out red smoke from about four miles away. It was emitted from one of Chesapeake Energy’s compression stations. I got out my air monitor and it went up to 1400 from the normal reading of 12. It was at a dangerous level; the air tasted and smelled like burnt rubber.”
Mollie and her neighbor used FracTracker to determine how many compression stations and gas wells are within a seven-mile radius. There are 50.
“My life has been ruined over this fracking,” Mollie says, frustrated because she can’t find an answer to her medical problems and her dream home gone because of Chesapeake Energy, the owner of the wells and compression stations.
READ MORE HYDRAULIC FRACTURING LEGAL NEWS
Some communities have banded together, pooled their resources to bring in environmental experts. Unfortunately, Mollie doesn’t know her community that well and some homes are owned by people who work in the industry, so that could be problematic.
“They started fracking here three years ago,” Mollie explains. “Many of our neighbors were approached and they are now earning dividends - if the pipeline is close to your property. And this divides communities too - those for and those against. I know the city and the county are profiting. I am not even against fracking if it is done safely. And I don’t see that happening.”