WARREN - A documentary filled with the testimonies of Pennsylvania residents and oil and gas experts on the possibly harmful side effects of hydraulic fracturing were all too familiar for Colleen and Floyd Wazelle, who sat in the audience Monday night.
"It has really affected our lives. It's so stressful and frustrating," said Colleen, who lives near the Kibler Well in Lordstown.
A crowd of about 30 gathered in the Raymond Wean Building Monday evening to watch "Triple Divide," a documentary, produced by news site PublicHerald.org. The film narrows in on the impact the shale gas mining industry has had in northern Pennsylvania, where the Allegheny, Genesee and Susquehanna riverheads begin.
It claims water contamination and infringement on the quality of life were caused near the wells.
Pro-frac groups have pointed out that the process of hydraulic fracturing is not new and has been ongoing for decades with hardly an issue. Pro-drilling groups argue that the oil and gas industries are helping bring middle income jobs back to a region devastated when the steel industry went into a steep decline.
The film disagrees with the environmental safety of fracking.
The film narrates a segment in the second person, leading the viewer through the experience of having a gas company approach one for their mineral rights and through the drilling and flaring process.
Colleen said the well near her house is not on her property, so they never signed any agreement for the leasing of mineral rights. They were also never informed that the well would being flaring in the summer, a process where natural gas coming from an active well is burnt off in order to test its productivity.
Around 3 a.m. one morning in June, she and her husband awoke as the flaring began, she said.
"It sounded like a siren," she said. "The sky was red flaring."
They originally thought it was an emergency and had gathered medication and the like to prepare for an evacuation.
In October, Halcon Resources promised that when it drills and hydraulically fractures the next leg of the Kibler well, it will do what it can to muffle the noise and lights affecting neighbors.
"Maintaining a safe and efficient work site for our employees and contractors is of the highest priority in this 24-hour-a-day operation and we also strive to be a respectful neighbor. To that end, we have erected a noise barrier on a portion of the well site perimeter in an attempt to minimize noise from our operations. We also plan to take additional steps with directed industrial lighting to also help reduce distraction and disruption from night time safety lighting," the company wrote in a letter to township officials after neighbor complaints were made.
Colleen Wazelle said the flaring is just on of several stories she has about the last half year that the well has been active. Not knowing what is happening at the well site has caused her much anxiety.
She and her family have lived in their Westwood Lake home for 22 years, but when her son returned from the military recently, she told him they didn't want him living nearby. It's not somewhere she wants her grandchildren to grow up, she said.
Jacob Goldner, also in the audience, said while he knew a lot about the impacts of fracking, he has similar concerns about not knowing what will being going on at the Blott Road well in Lordstown that is about five to eight miles from his home. The well has been drilled but is not yet active in mining.
"I've done some pretty good research so I'm very aware of the impact on the water and the eyesores," he said.
He would still like to have studies performed on the geological impact that fracking will have. He said it harkens back to the coal mining boom that resulted in the destruction of entire mountains and affected the flow of water, among other things.
Nathan Johnson of the Ohio Environmental Council and Jason Kunkemoeller of the Sierra Club answered questions from the audience after the film.
Brian Kunkemoeller said that radioactive fracking waste water cannot be entirely cleaned.
Johnson said the best way for people have a say in this and other fracking developments is to utilize the local government.
"There's not very far you can go on the state level. Your best bet is to go to your local officials," he said, citing the city of Athens, which he said passed a law that would allow a tax on the well with the money collected being used to continue water testing.