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Upstate New York Community Launches Fracking Suit

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New York, NY: Nine families from the town of Horseheads in Upstate New York have launched a massive class-action suit against the Anschutz Exploration Corporation and its subcontractors alleging that a hydraulic fracturing operation to extract natural gas destroyed their property values and contaminated their drinking water.

Hydraulic fracturing (known as fracking) is a controversial drilling process used to extract natural gas from the rich and largely untapped reserves that run from New York State down through Pennsylvania and as far south as Texas.

Water is flushed down the pipeline fracturing the rock and forcing gas up a return line. Unfortunately, it can also force other gases into the soil and nearby ground water. "We are talking about benzene, toluene, and other contaminates," says attorney Marc Bern whose firm Napoli, Bern, Ripka & Associates represents the families.

"Some of the contaminants are known carcinogens and everyone there has a serious fear of cancer," says Bern.

"The families in Horseheads may not be able to live in their homes for as a long as they would have liked," says Bern. "I don't know who would buy those homes; maybe someone would want it for a natural gas lease or something of that nature."

According to the 45-page statement of claim, representatives of the Anschutz Exploration Corporation went knocking on doors in Horseheads two years ago before the drilling began and told homeowners that they "would never know anything was happening and everything would be the same after the gas wells were drilled."

Six months after Anschutz drilled two 10,000 foot deep wells in February 2010, families living in close proximity to the wells discovered their drinking water was contaminated with combustible gases like propane and dissolved methane, and other toxins.

The Horseheads families can no longer use their well water for drinking, cooking or bathing.

Napoli, Bern, Ripka & Associates is also representing clients in fracking-related water contamination suits in several states, including people in the town of Dimock, Pennsylvania, featured in a documentary called Gasland, showing what can happen when you hold a match to a jug of water from the tap in Dimock.

"The water is so contaminated at times that you can light a match and the water will flare!" says an amazed Bern who has fought his fair share of environmental lawsuits.

The gas reserves in the eastern US are seen as a solution to some of the county's energy problems, but the accessing it, says Bern, must be done with regard for the health and safety of people who live in these areas.

"This is a potentially fantastic goldmine right in the US," says Bern. "The problem with all these environmental disasters, whether you are talking about big oil companies, or gas or oil companies, is they have no conscience, and environmental disasters can and do occur way too frequently."

Marc Bern is a senior partner with the firm of Napoli, Bern, Ripka & Associates. The firm handles catastrophic injury cases, pharmaceutical product liability and has acted for clients in cases involving Redux, Ephedra, Rezulin and Baycol. He has also been successful in litigating on behalf of clients affected by MTBE gasoline contamination and PCBs.


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Posted by

what I don't understand is if there is a moratorium on fracking in new york state, how is there a fracking related lawsuit in horseheads? have they simply drilled a well and have yet to actually frack it?

Posted by

A word about MCL Maximum Contaminant Level.. no one knows what the combination of 2 or 3 or more different effluents mixed that forms a unique substance that has no regulations. Just because it hasn't been invented (combined) doesn't make it any less lethal. You can have a myriad of effluents just under the threshold and not consider the whole cocktail...that is what is happening in our water, soil and air. These unknown, multiple, toxic combinations over a cumulative period render us lab rats under the guise of legality.

I literally rec'd details on a spill in our aquifer, Lake Arlington TX, an hour ago on an email forward from an open records request. This spill happened 7 months ago. Twice the spill was identified as produced water, yet once it was called frac solution. Our city officials sadly may not know the difference. Months ago I asked them if the would test our Trinity water for heavy metals and was told that we were not set up to do that. For a town that has 100 wells under it's drinking water source for over 500,000 people, ya think they'd be a bit more open, protective and professional?

Posted by

Contrary to the massive publicity campaign that the gas industry is running, drilling, especially fracking, is not environmentally friendly.


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