How Many Sides are Too Many Sides to a Story?


This is Terry Greenwood.  He is one of many in Pennsylvania affected by negligent fracking practices.  Terry makes a living by raising and selling cattle.  In recent years, his business has declined because his animals are getting sick.  The company working on Terry’s property did not regulate water management practices to help keep his animal’s drinking water safe.  Terry pays around $800 a year for water now.  He has lost acreage on his farm due to spillage, roads, and trash from the company.

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You can read about Terry’s story and others here:  http://www.environmentamericacenter.org/sites/environment/files/reports/ShalefieldStoriesnp_0.pdf

This post takes a look at the workers on site at Terry’s farm (Disclaimer:  I am not an expert on putting wastewater into storage pits.  Google told me some things, but this is less about the technicality of the process that the conversation that occurs as a result)

Sean: 4:45!  Just fifteen more minutes til we can get out of here.  Is there anything we need to finish up before we go?

Mike:  We have to get this flowback into the pit before we can go.  We’re going to start drilling soon and we can’t have the water sitting in there for too long.  It’s already been in there a while.

Sean: Yeah…the property owner keeps coming down and telling us there’s something wrong with the water in his house.  And he keeps trying to tell John about how his cattle is getting sick.

Mike:  You think the frack water did that?

Sean:  Who knows…I just work the well.  They don’t tell us the results of any tests done on the water around here. I hope the guy is alright.  Let’s get this water into the waste pit.

[Sean and Mike hastily attach the hose from the well and walk it over to the pit, where some fracking fluid already sits in a plastic lined hole dug into land formerly used for cattle grazing]

Mike: Alright, let’s get this done.  I want to get home!

Sean:  Is the hose in place?

Mike:  Uh yeah, I think so.  Just turn it on.

[Fracking flowback fluid flows into the pond]

Mike:  There a leak!  Check it out…there’s definitely water coming out of the hose over there.

Sean:  Yeah, that’s been happening for a couple of weeks now.  Management keeps saying a new one is coming soon.

Mike:  Should we tape it up or something?

Sean:  Do you want to touch that stuff?? Besides, most of it is getting into the pit.  It’ll be fine!

Mike:  True.  Let’s just get this finished up and get out of here.

Sean:  I’ll talk to management on Monday and hopefully they’ll do something about it.  For now, I’m going to go home and see my family.

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6 thoughts on “How Many Sides are Too Many Sides to a Story?”

  1. Good realism. The men working the wells have their own constraints. This also seems full of personal troubles for individuals, like Mills describe in the sociological imagination, with no one able to see the larger public issues shaping the choices they have to make.

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  2. Like Jordi said, the realism really made your blog post unique. It made me think about how much of the damage that companies do is not due to one specific decision-making agent choosing to blatantly disregard human suffering, but more as a result of a system-wide problem of not making damaging the environment or other people’s lives an absolute priority.

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    1. I see there being two layers of causes. Yes, you can view it at the micro -level where the workers at each site are not prioritizing work. At another level, the management team is probably getting a lot of ‘Seans’ coming in on Monday to point out internal flaws. Perhaps, over that level someone is telling management to not acknowledge any leaks, etc. I like how this humanizes people who may commonly be judged as “Guilty by association”.

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  3. This definitely hits home and brings the reality of fracking’s implications to life. I would be shocked if he was not at least compensated in some way for the losses he suffered. Maybe I missed something or didn’t dig deep enough into it, but I sure hope he did.

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