CHERRY CREEK – An estimated group of about 20 area residents gathered Saturday morning to protest the response of the “frac-out” that occurred on Farrington Hollow Road in late May.
“So many people showed up,” said Susan Baldwin, a Villenova resident. “It was a beautiful morning and people probably had other plans, but this was important.”
The frac-out, caused by directional drilling in relation to the Cassadaga Wind Project, caused drilling mud to flow to the surface, covering the road and some of the wooded areas around the road. The protest was brought about because of rising concern of the environmental impact the drilling mud would have.
“A lady brought a brown water sample she had from her well and I myself have a dreadful brown water stain all the way down my bathtub,” Baldwin said. “We got attention from local law enforcement, and when one of them looked at the resident’s water sample, he wouldn’t even touch it.”
Baldwin was not the only one reporting a contaminated water specimen, as other residents there expressed concern over the same issue, as well as the impact it may have on the surrounding environment.
“I smelled the sample I had taken from that site, and it made my lips and tongue burn like a hot pepper,” Baldwin said. “I feel so bad for the animals that have to swim and walk that can’t wash it off.”
Since the frac-out occurred, drilling in the area has stopped as crews have been working to remove the drilling mud from the area. According to the Frac-Out Contingency Plan, because drilling mud consists largely of bentonite clay-water mixture, it is not classified as a toxic or hazardous substance but can adversely impact fish and invertebrates.
Those protesting held up various signs to voice their disagreement with the Cassadaga Wind Project being in the area at all, as well as concern for wetlands and beaver dams that are around that area on Farrington Hollow Road. One thing Cherry Creek residents are wishing for is a Comprehensive Impact Statement, as well as a chemical analysis of the frac-out mud and surrounding wetland waters.
A DEC spokesperson said the situation is still under investigation by them and the Department of Public Service.
“The Departments of Public Service (DPS) and Environmental Conservation (DEC) are actively investigating this incident to determine if any permit conditions or environmental requirements were violated at the Cherry Creek site,” said the DEC and DPS in a joint statement. “This joint investigation is ongoing. If violations are identified, the developer will be held accountable for the clean-up and remediation to ensure protection of public health and the environment.”