Possible dangers of natural gas drilling discussed

Mariana Silva

Almost 140 Shalersville, Paris, and Kent residents met for an informational session about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing Thursday night at the Shalersville Town Hall.

Concerned Citizens of Portage County organized the meeting because residents of Portage County have been receiving proposals from gas companies looking to sign joint lease contracts to perform fracking in the area.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of extracting natural gas through deep well drilling, usually from shale or coalbeds. Fracking occurs when, after a well is drilled, a high pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected to open up rock fissures, allowing natural gas to flow easier from the well.

Portage County, as well as a large part of Ohio, is located right above the Marcellus Shale formation, which the Ohio Department of Natural Resources considers to be the largest exploration play in the eastern United States.

Created the summer of this year, Concerned Citizens of Portage County believes in the effort of informing the public about the dangers of natural gas drilling through fracking.

Julie Buck of Shalersville, one of the speakers at the meeting, said she was offered a lease of $350 per acre three months ago by a broker representing an energy company.

Buck said she was inclined to sign the lease when she realized her neighbors were about to lease their lands. She changed her mind, however, after attending a meeting in Paris Township where she learned about the dangers of the drilling method.

At the meeting Buck said she met Lori Gourley Babbey, member of Concerned Citizens of Portage County, as well as other residents who had been offered lease contracts and wanted to learn more about fracking.

Buck and Babbey said that when brokers visited their homes early this year, they mainly talked about how much money the residents could make by signing the contract. The women said the brokers never touched on the subject of water contamination or how their properties could be devalued for having a well.

Babbey said the group plans to meet again, at a time and date to be determined, in order to distribute more information about fracking before the Dec. 1 showing of “Gasland,” a documentary by Josh Fox on natural gas drilling.