Activists Block Fracking Injection Well

Activists Block Fracking Injection Well

YOUNGSTOWN, OH. A group of 7 activists blocked an access gate to an injection well owned by V&M Star, preventing toxic wastewater from being injected into the well. The action is in response to the Y.O.U.N.G Expo 2011.  Taking place today in Youngstown, it is the first natural gas and hydro-fracturing industry conference in the state of Ohio.

“There is no guarantee that these toxins don’t migrate into drinking water, only a guarantee that these companies put profits before our health and safety,” said anti-fracking activist Ben Shapiro, a member of the blockade.

Fracking has polluted drinking water supplies in communities all across the country. ProPublica has identified more than 1,000 cases of water contamination near drilling sites documented by courts, states, and local governments.[1]

The injection of brine water into deep rock formation can lubricate faults[2], and is probably the cause of the only 7 recorded earthquakes with epicenters in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.[3] Earthquakes began after the injections began at the occupied well in Youngstown.

Jackson Kusiak, who was blockading, said “We want to make it clear to the Natural Gas Industry and to our representatives that fracking is unsafe and irresponsible, and not the solution for our country’s energy problems.”


[1] Lutsgarten, Abraham. “Buried secrets: Is natural gas drilling endangering U.S. water supplies?” ProPublica. November 13, 2008. As cited by Food and Water Watch. documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/fracking_ban.pdf

[3] Associated Press. “Youngstown Earthquakes linked to Fracking?” Oct. 31, 2011. woub.org/2011/10/31/youngstown-earthquakes-linked-fracking

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2 thoughts on “Activists Block Fracking Injection Well

  1. Response to: “Who Is Alex Lotorto, Well Street Occupier?” from Alex:

    Giles, as part as a lengthy response to you, first, I’m not a “professional protester” and have never been paid to protest. I don’t personally know anyone who ever has except my opponents (some of whom write for this blog). I actually have had over a dozen hard labor jobs, two corporate internships, three jobs at call centers, gigs as a professional dinner and wedding pianist, and am currently a web designer, consultant, and home care provider for a sick family member.
    I’m 25 years old and, as I’m sure you’re also aware, since you seem to have an obsession with following my work, a vast majority of my time is spent working on local legislation, institutional divestment from the industry, in addition to a myriad of other ways working people can fight drilling from coming into their communities.
    You were present in Pittsburgh in 2010 when the city banned drilling, were you not? I introduced Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to the Lincoln Place Action group and others that packed City Council meetings repeatedly with concerned citizens in an unprecedented exercise in democracy in recent SW PA history.
    I often praise property rights of landowners because my family has owned land in rural PA and before that, a farm in NJ, my entire life. However, as you may have studied in economics, externalities of industrial activities, with the classic example being pollution, is one major way that state involvement is required to create the disincentive for those externalities. In studying the industry, you can see that not only has PA DEP and the state’s oversight of this industry been totally inadequate as far as fines and frequency of inspections.
    By scanning the thousands of violations, specifically the environmental and safety violations, cited by PA DEP, you’ll quickly begin to see a pattern: well casing failures, spills, inadequate erosion and sediment controls, lack of blowout preventers, leaking valves. These are just many of the violations that occur at well sites.

    If you zoom out from just the well sites, you’ll see pipeline right of ways being constructed that require the dredging of streams in sensitive watersheds, blowouts of drilling mud used for “dry crossings”, more erosion control problems, and inadequate welds and inspections.
    If you consider the plastics industry that is about to descend upon the region due to the projected Shell Oil ethane cracker plant, you’ll see cancer rates above average in Charleston WV and “Cancer Valley” in Louisiana.
    If you consider the suppliers of the drilling, you’ll see Lafarge cement, a new member of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, burning tires to fire their cement kiln in Whitehall, PA just outside Allentown where I attended college. You’ll see chemical cars riding on train trestles that were built before the Civil War.
    If you consider the local economic impacts, traditional rural industries such as tourism and recreation (where my family derives our income), agriculture, real estate, and related industries are being displaced by the industry that ruins the reputation of our region as a great place to live, raise a family, and retire. After paying off mortgages for an entire adult lifetime with hard-earned wages, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are concerned that their house will be worth less after drilling nearby. It’s for those people that “direct action” is needed, which is historically precedented in Pennsylvania from Valley Forge to the Whiskey Rebellion to the Molly Maguires. However, I am NOT advocating the violent tactics pursued by the terrorist George Washington at Valley Forge. (sarcasm). I am training people how to do sit-ins. You can call that violent if you’d like, however, I get to call the University of Pittsburgh “Rutgers” from now on.
    I am not advocating violence. It’s actually very insensitive of you to write an article blasting the tactics of nonviolence the same weak we honor a great man with a federal holiday who supported labor strikes, disrupting diners by sitting at their all-white lunch counters, and marching in the streets (which of course impedes traffic). Students who were educated at MLK’s Freedom Schools DID participate in occupations of colleges and universities in pursuit of their civil rights. They even disrupted the Democratic National Convention that same year.

    As per your understanding of Seattle 1999, I recommend you watch the documentary “This is What Democracy Looks Like”. When I refer to those demonstrations, that’s representative of the nonviolent direct action I refer to: marches, sit-ins, blockades, and street theatre. Yes, some people broke windows in Seattle, but by most people’s definition, a pane of glass is not a living being. Glass can be broken, shattered, scratched, pierced, but it can’t have “violence” against it. “Violence” is a word reserved for living things. I have people explore this in my trainings, otherwise, putting a sticker on a light post, or sticking up a flyer with gunky tape, or tracking mud into a building, would be considered violence, because it clearly hurts the property. Is that included in your definition of “violence” as well?
    If you read Occupy ‘Well’ Street’s site, you’ll see nonviolence is all that’s advocated there. It’s actually pretty straightforward.
    As far as property rights go, a property owner has a right to develop their land to the boundary of their property line, including corporations that developed their land. However, they do not have a right to ruin the property values of their neighbors. Historically, zoning laws address this in Pennsylvania. Issues from burn barrels to septic tanks have been traditionally controlled by local governments. The gas industry, however, led by the likes of Senator Scarnati, who got whisked away to the Steelers Superbowl by CONSOL Energy last year, wants a special “permitted use” status for themselves in local townships as debated during the passage of SB 1100 recently, and a pre-emption of all local ordinances that currently restrict them.
    That, my friend, is an undermining of democratic rights of local communities and property owners who wish to exercise tighter controls than Harrisburg currently provides, up to and including banning drilling, water withdrawals, compressor stations, and wastewater storage altogether.
    What’s the answer to drilling? First, we have to preserve and enhance the rural heritage and traditional industries that we currently have by not allowing Marcellus development to continue. Second, we need to provide tax incentives to industries I’ll list off the top of my head, green construction, weatherization of homes, wind turbine manufacturing, wind turbine assembly, wind turbine installation, electric vehicles and components, solar panel manufacturing, solar panel assembly, solar panel installation, geo-thermal manufacturing, and geo-thermal installation. The first people who should be hired into those jobs should be the Pennsylvanians who took jobs with the gas industry, including many of my friends.
    To be honest, both public and private investors are the ones who are going to decide the fate of Pennsylvania. The decisions that they make regarding where they put their money will decide how many wells are drilled. In fact, colleges and universities have one of the biggest roles to play. In capitalism, investors are the kingmakers of corporations. That is why I educate pensioners, congregations, and students about the important factor of socially responsible investing. It’s in the tradition of the Global Sullivan Principles that fostered divestment from South African apartheid and the anti-nuclear divestment that has prevented the construction of new nuclear reactors for decades.
    Giles, I recall you’ve been an advocate of Native American and indigenous rights. You’ve written pieces rightfully criticizing the actions of Christopher Columbus and his genocide and slavery of indigenous people he encountered. As someone who grew up in an Italian household, I thank you, and I’ve used your articles to explain it to my family.
    I encourage you to take the same approach to the likes of Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake, who has little regard for the people of Pennsylvania who lived here long before drilling. Proud people who are my neighbors here in God’s Country, who hunt and fish these lands as their recreation and live a simple life. Many of these same people are the ones questioning the gas industry now. I am among them. From Wyalusing to Damascus, from Peters Township to Butler, people living among leased properties are attending local meetings at a never-before-seen rate. I’m proud to be a rural Pennsylvanian.
    -Alex
    P.S. http://www.owsstopfracking.org/ has been up in it’s current version for a total of two months and since I’m not a professional protester, as you can see, some of the links aren’t working yet because I haven’t had time to fix them. No I’m off to help my sick family member and buy groceries, you know, the devious tomato sauce and garlic I use to concoct my warlock’s brew. Muahahaha.

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