Times Live 30 October 2012.
I stared deep into the photograph of a man who refused to be beaten by industry. The face I was looking at was Fred McIntyre, a water driller from northern Pennsylvania. His eyes cut right through me; green, calm and alive with fury. His expression was bland but each one of the thousand wrinkles flowing towards pursed lips told a story of a man who would not be undermined.
Fred can no longer drink his tap water and, when the wind blows down from the drilling rig nearby, he and anyone with him need to lock themselves indoors as the air becomes too difficult to breathe…
… However, it was not until the end of the session, when I admitted I was a South African looking to learn about the similarities between Pennsylvania and our own Karoo area, that things got really interesting. For an hour after the final speaker, I was unable to leave due to the queue of people wanting to pass on their stories and advice.
“You need to do three things back home,” said Fred.
“First prize is that you don’t drill wells. But if first prize is not possible, you need to make sure that they case those things all the way to the bottom. Secondly, you need to regulate where the water goes after it has been pumped into the well. When it comes back up it will have a whole lot of terrible things in it.”
The message was clear.
Fracking is not just about environmental concerns, it’s about people. It is about the security of families, the health of their children, and the success of farms…