It was so hard to get up on Saturday morning. Ellie and I barely got six hours of sleep and didn’t know if we were ready to handle another emotional day. However, we knew that water is delivered to four families on Carter Rd between 8 and 10:30 every morning, so we forced ourselves to get up.
One thing Ellie and I immediately noticed during our time in Dimock, was the number of trucks on the road. There are constantly huge trucks on the road. Because of the amount of heavy trucks, the roads are destroyed. There are potholes half the size of the road all over. On our way to Carter Road, we saw road workers filling in the potholes. I began taking photographs of them filling in a pothole when a man in a white truck pulled up to me. “Excuse me, may I ask what the pictures are for?” he asked. I explained I was a photojournalism student just taking some pictures for myself. He answered. “Just so you know we’re paving this Monday. We’re just filling the potholes. We’re here to help people, not hurt them.” Why did a road worker feel the need to convince me he is a good person for filling a hole? Why did he need to question me for taking a picture of a hole in the road in the first place?
One of the things that broke my heart about Dimock, was how such a beautiful, rural town was turned totally industrial. The whole town has been redefined by industry.
This creek, which runs along Carter Road has been contaminated by a number of diesel spills from the trucks.
The Sautner’s get their water delivered every morning by this truck. The truck drives from two and a half hours away to deliver to the Sautner’s and three other families on Carter Road.
The Sautner’s gave us a few phone numbers of other people we could contact. A call to Craig Stevens lead us to Silver Springs, a town nine miles from Dimock. Ellie and I immediately fell in love with the town and it’s beauty. They started hydrofracking in Silver Lake about a year ago and in the past few months, citizens are just starting to discover their water has been contaminated. These families are still without any assistance from the gas and oil companies to provide them with clean water.
Just like Dimock, the roads in Silver Lake were destroyed from the trucks. This road damage was right in front of Craig Stevens’ house. Craig complains that there are trucks constantly driving by his house, even in the middle of the night.
Craig Stevens is the sixth generation in his family to live in his house in Silver Lake. Craig is extremely upset over the hydrofracking in his area and what it has done to his property. He hopes to pass the house on to his children, making them the seventh generation to reside in the house.
Craig pulled this trailer out from his garage. He collected this garbage along his road in two hours. He explained that the truck drivers who come in from texas, louisiana, etc also come with a lot of problems. There are beer cans littered all over the road which they throw out their windows (..while driving). There have been several drug busts with the fracking workers brought in from all over the country. Crime rates have also skyrocketed in the towns since hydrofracking begun. Craig told us about a seventeen year old girl in the town who had to watch her father die after a fracking truck overturned on top of their car.
Craig Stevens shows us Laurel Lake Creek which runs through his backyard. The creek used to be filled with trout, but on July 29, 2011 a well near his house had a blow out. A blow causes thousands of gallons of fracking fluid to be spilled into local fields, creeks, farms, etc. The well near his house blew out eight times in under two months. There is now a brown substance covering the bottom of the creek.
After we heard Craig’s story, we met up with Vera Scroggins. Vera is an extraordinary woman and has become a hydrofracking activist and founded Citizens for Clean Water in Silver Lake. Vera takes people on tours of Silver Lake and shows them the different active sites in the area.
We called Vera that morning and she was kind enough to spend several hours with us taking us on a tour of the area. This was the first live fracking site Ellie and I saw. It was hard to finally experience what was causing devastation to the many great people we met over the weekend.
This is a hydrofracking site which is currently being built in Silver Lake. The driveway leads back to a flat pad which the well goes on top of, which completely disturbs the landscape.
Vera took us to a family who just discovered this December that their water was contaminated. They are currently in a law suit with the oil and gas company, so I could not take photographs of them and I cannot mention their names. They have two kids, one who is two years old and the other five. They have to drive to New York once a week to pick up water, but the family still has to shower in the contaminated water. They explained how they have to leave a window open while they shower, otherwise they get dizzy from all of the methane building up.
The family filled up a glass with their tap water for us. They explained that the water usually comes out yellow, but because they wanted to do laundry that day they left it running for the day so it “looks cleaner than usual.” They are able to light their tap water on fire from the methane coming out of the faucet, but because there were young kids in the house and it can be dangerous, I didn’t ask them to do it for us. Although they got their water tested by the gas and oil company 45 days ago, the company still hasn’t returned the results or discussed a way to get them clean water.
I took this picture to show how close in proximity these fracking wells are to homes. I don’t understand how people think that windmills are ugly (even though I think they’re pretty), but are okay with this when it is also so endangering to health and the environment.
It breaks my heart to think of what this landscape would look like without this.
As the sun went down it came time for Ellie and I to head back to Rochester. Along with these photographs, Ellie and I took video and recorded audio, both of the fracking and our interviews with people. We finished off our day by recording a video of us reflecting on our day with this in the background. With tears in my eyes I asked everyone to stop this from happening in other parts of the country, including our own and I want to ask you all the same thing. I understand the Marcellus Shale is a gold mine of natural gas, but it just isn’t worth risking something as essential to the lives of people as water, air, and soil. We need your help to stop this from continuing.