'Wake up to dangers of fracking'

Last updated 10:17 17/03/2012
Daniel Tobin

Vicki Anderson talks to ex-pat Bill Strudley, who's family in the USA has been directly effected by a gas company fracking their well.

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Cantabrians should educate themselves on the dangers of fracking, says a former Christchurch resident.

Bill Strudley, wife Beth and their two teenagers left their dream home in Silt Mesa, Colorado, last year because they were "being poisoned" by nearby gas-well drilling.

He attributes the family's health problems to exposure to a potentially deadly gas, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), released during the drilling process.

"We believe hydraulic fracturing - fracking - caused the H2S to get into our water well and get into the air in our house through our taps, our toilet, our dishwasher. We couldn't drink the water from our tap, and our house smelt like rotten eggs from all the gas," Strudley told The Press on a recent visit to see family in Christchurch.

"It was like living in a meth lab. We kept getting nosebleeds, severe skin rashes and welts, and had trouble breathing, among other symptoms.

"My son passed out in the bathroom. The toxicologist told us we couldn't continue to live in our home.

"We had to go and stay at a hotel. We had to desert our home."

He said their health improved after they moved out of their house.

One air sample taken at their home indicated that H2S was present at 185 times the level considered safe by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

Strudley said the mining industry had downplayed the fears expressed by his community, and that he had, at times, felt intimidated.

"You find yourself in a David versus Goliath situation. You're just the little guy.

"The industry just keep trotting out the same lines, that their activities are closely regulated by the state government and do not pose health hazards, but just merely saying that over and over again doesn't make it true," Strudley said.

"New Zealanders need to wake up. The reality of living with fracking is vastly different to what the industry says it is."

The Strudleys have a lawsuit against Antero Resources Corporation, the company that has drilled several wells on Silt Mesa.

A spokesperson for Antero Resources Corporation told The Press: "Antero appreciates your interest. However, we have no comment."

Strudley said he had the backing a large law firm. "[They] came to us and said they would help us after hearing about what we'd been through," he said. "We're fighting this with their help.

"We were thinking of bringing our family home to Christchurch to get away from it, but if fracking is coming there, there's no way I'd put my family through that again.

"I can't believe New Zealanders would let this happen . . . It's like pooping in your own backyard."

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- The Press


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