Stories from the Fracking Frontlines
A GROWING BODY OF PUBLIC HEALTH RESEARCH SHOWS THAT LIVING TOO CLOSE TO FRACKING OPERATIONS, ESPECIALLY LESS THAN 1/2 MILE, IS A SERIOUS RISK TO HEALTH AND SAFETY.
Grave risks clearly linked to the toxic emissions from fracking include cancer, respiratory problems, endocrine disruption, low birth weight babies, birth defects, high infant mortality and more. Fracking fouls our air, water and climate and deteriorates home values. There have been at least 15 oil and gas related explosions in the last year and a half since the Firestone home explosion, several of which have killed or severely burned workers and residents. Over 2,200 complaints have been filed with the COGCC since January 2015, and stories continue to emerge about people living by fracking whose health and quality of life are being ruined.
Click here to share your story about how fracking has impacted you, your family, or your community.
Not One Person Should Suffer Because You Don’t Know – The Larson & Gonzalez Family from Frederick, CO (Click here for video of family’s testimony at COGCC hearing)
We had a beautiful home. We had a beautiful view of the mountains. It was peaceful. Then we were notified that Fracking would take place across the street from our home in Frederick. Our daughter, grandbaby and son-in-law just moved in with us a few months before. One thing we learned is that fracking happens mostly under the night sky. Workers showed up late, they would drop pipes, drill and make a lot of noise, sometimes shaking our home. It was miserable, and I complained about that to the COGCC several times to no avail. Diesel trucks would sit idle. You could smell the diesel in the air. There were other odors that I complained about that sometime were so strong it would give us headaches or make us feel nauseated.
Then a fire happened. We could not leave our home because the firemen told us we could not run our truck over their hoses that were strung across our yard and driveway. We were sent a letter from Sundance Oil and Gas, however, we obtained the fire report. There were hundreds of gallons of chemicals stored in an open container that a spark caught it on fire. The fine: about $3500 to Sundance.
There were strong chemical odors in the air, causing my daughter headaches and nausea. My grand-daughter who was 18 months old, that was perfectly healthy prior to the fracking, had to be put on breathing treatments every 4 hours. She developed sores on her face that no doctor could explain; she still bears scars to this day. However, as soon as we moved her face cleared up and healed, and she immediately quit coughing and no longer needed breathing treatments within a month of leaving the home.
Our daughter was diagnosed with AML on September 9, 2014. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is an environmentally caused blood cancer. Her chromosomes changed. Every person’s immune system responds differently to chemicals they are exposed to. 8 beds in the bone marrow transplant ward had 4 beds filled with young people that were exposed to fracking. 2 of them were oil and gas workers, one was a fire fighter in Firestone that had been exposed to fighting an oil and gas fire, and then our daughter.
Doctors told us that it is proven that exposure to the oil and gas wells did affect children with respiratory problems such as wheezing and chronic coughing. No medications healed Gabriella’s face. It healed when we moved. Studies are not supported on the health effects for people that live near these sites. When we bought our home, we thought we were buying a home with a beautiful view, designated open space right out our front door. Then they put up a huge fracking sight, lots of oil and gas wells, and berms of dirt to cover the ugly sight. That seems bad, but what is worse is when you are told your daughter has 2 weeks to live and her blood is 90% full of leukemia cells. That is something that should not happen to anyone because we just don’t know about the effects of fracking.
– The Larson and Gonzalez Family
Brett Irwin from Firestone, CO – Brett’s sister Erin Martinez’s home exploded in flames in April of 2017 after a nearby oil and gas well leaked methane gas into their basement. Erin was severely burned. She and Brett’s brother Joey Irwin and Erin’s husband Mark Martinez were both killed in the blaze. Erin’s child only escaped by jumping from a second floor window. Anadarko, the company responsible, has been sued for ignoring safety concerns.
“I had to tell my mom that it’s Joey too. I was the first one in the world to know that my brother was dead. I was hoping it would wake up Colorado a little bit. It started with greed and it still is greed. If we don’t do something about this, it’s going to happen again.”
Kathryn from Erie, CO – When Kathryn’s family lived in Erie, within a quarter mile of 12 oil and gas wells, her 1-year-old daughter was constantly sick. She had her daughter’s blood tested and discovered that she had dangerous levels of a cancer-causing toxic chemical called benzene in her blood. Her benzene levels tested in the 95th percentile. The doctors told Kathryn that to keep her daughter safe, she would have to move away from the oil and gas development. Now, three months later, Kathryn lives nowhere near an oil and gas site. Blood tests by the Children’s Hospital North Campus confirmed her daughter’s blood is now benzene free, and she is feeling better.
“I started having vomiting episodes. My kids started getting sick all the time. The doctor told us the only way to get this out of our systems was to eliminate the exposure to it. We felt forced from our home. If we can vote to get this further away from homes, what my family went through doesn’t have to happen.”
Beth from Erie, CO – mom and scientist finds high levels of benzene and other VOCs in her 6-year-old’s blood. “How does a 6-year-old get to be in the 85th percentile for benzene and what are going to be the impacts on his health? Where on the front range is safe? If it isn’t the proximity of 158 wells that are within a 1-mile radius of my home and my son’s school, then where would you say this level of exposure to this environmental carcinogen is coming from? I ask that everybody support this 2500′ setback. It’s a common sense safety precaution that helps keep these wells further away from our children. It’s not going to prevent all of these exposures, but it will help limit them. We have to look at what we can do to keep our communities safe.” Click here to see Beth’s story on Channel 7 news.
Emmett who lives in the Montebello neighborhood in Denver, CO – is a former oil and gas worker who was seriously injured on the job and is now fighting to protect his neighborhood from fracking. “I went into the oil industry thinking that it was a good job, a safe job… When I dropped to the rig floor the first thing I heard was ‘Call flight for life’. The next thing I heard was ‘We don’t have time’. I lost two fingers. It snapped all the tendons in my wrist, broke my arm, and I’ve been in pain ever since. I still have nightmares, and I’m in pain as we speak right now. You work in that field, you’re going to get hurt. They money is good, but it’s not worth it. People have gotten killed, maimed. These things aren’t told to the public, but they happen on a routine basis. Not only do people get injured seriously, serious things are happening to our communities due to lack of regulatory control on these oil companies. They don’t care about anybody. They put all these toxic chemicals down that hole just to make sure they can get their million dollar drill bit out. From now until election day I canvass. Somebody has to stand up and say something or we’re going to lose our community forever, our home values, our quality of life. We’re going to lose our kids. We’re going to lose our lives. So we have to be really vigilant on this issue.”
Kayla from Centennial in Arapahoe County, CO – a mom of small children, under threat of fracking and being forced pooled. “They only need one person to agree to sell their mineral rights…if they get that one person they will proceed with extracting the minerals.” “We have no choice.” “I have to do what’s best for my family and for that reason, I’m all in for Proposition 112. It would make our site not be able to happen because it wouldn’t be that 2500′ from a home that is required.”
Dave from Thornton, CO – Colorado Firefighter & Hazard Material Technician Light supports Prop 112 in light of 17 oil and gas explosions in the last year, several of which have killed and seriously injured people – “Proposition 112 calls for 2500′ setbacks between fracking and schools, homes and water sources. This matches the half-mile isolate and initial evacuation zone when large oil and gas fires or explosions occur, so it’s a common sense setback.”
Patricia from Greeley, CO – mom of a child who attends Bella Romero School, where 24 fracking wells are proposed a 684′ from the school playground. “I’ve been trying to get modest measures to protect schools passed through the legislature – to get 1000′ from school property lines, but nothing has ever come into fruition. So now I’m working to push oil and gas back – at least 2500′ is just common sense. So get out and donate your money or your time to pass this!”
Robert, from Coaldale, CO – a cancer survivor who was exposed to toxic water as a child and gives a grave warning about protecting children at Bella Romero School and elsewhere from the toxic exposures related to fracking. “People mention that in the future these children could get cancer or be ill. I am the future. I got prostate cancer from a very similar situation when I was a child. Hundreds of other people died and are still dying. We must protect these kids and 2500′ setbacks is the least that we can do to keep oil and gas away from their schools, playgrounds, and homes so these kids have a chance at a safe and healthy future.”
Paula from Erie, CO – an engineer and a mom of two young children. “I’m supporting the 2500′ setback initiative because I’m being told that I can’t do anything. As a mother I’m being told I can’t do what I need to do to protect my children. I’ve complained to my city council members, county commissioners, senators and COGCC, but everyone is pointing at each other saying they can’t do anything – it’s someone else’s responsibility. That is not acceptable to me as a mother that I can’t protect my children’s schools, home and playgrounds from benzene exposure and explosions. That’s why I’m supporting the 2500′ setbacks initiative and encourage you to do the same.”
Anne Marie, from Broomfield, CO – speaks by her twin daughters’ former school, Aspen Creek Elementary, where an oil and gas well expansion was proposed. “This is for all of us. We’re asking for 2500′ setbacks from our homes, our schools, our drinking water sources and our hospitals for a little better health and safety. We’re just people doing this because our state of Colorado has not protected us. 2500′ setbacks is where fire departments evacuate people from wells when they explode. We deserve to not have our home within that place – to not have our children at their schools worried about what might happen to them. We can do this together.”
Suzanne from Thornton, CO – a mom, grandma and nurse concerned about the impacts of fracking on our families, especially children. “I became a nurse because I care. When fracking was proposed in my community I started doing the research and I read about the health impacts – the increase in asthma, cancer, leukemia and low birth weight babies. I thought for sure when I sent these studies out and informed our elected officials something would happen. I was very disappointed. Oil and gas is doing everything they can to discredit these studies. These are valid studies, and the impacts concern me greatly. I want to see 2500′ setbacks to have common sense protective measures for the health and safety of our children, future generations, our communities, our families’ health. I urge you to definitely vote yes in November.”
Lauren Bouche’ Hauser from South Weld County, CO –
Here’s a shot of Jack in 2014 at the Grand Canyon. I actually think he’s better looking after 30 years!
And here’s a shot of us in Grand Canyon.
He was such a vigorous guy. We hiked, camped, he was a monster fly fisherman, scratch shooting golfer, and many other things. Here are a couple of pics of him in 2016 just a couple of months prior to diagnosis. Here at Moab in October of 2016
Here are a couple of pics of fracking wells just up the road 1/2 mile or so by the Vestas wind plant. They fracked 26 wells right under the plant. Later, there were two incidences of fires in the tanks.
Here’s one of burn off by another project in 2012.