November 2, 2017~ Little Road Trip to Woodrow Fracking site, the first high volume frack well in IL under the new regulations.
We hadn’t heard a word or seen a photo. Not a peep from County Road 50 East in White County. What was going on?
On the way to the site the farmer from the oil spill at TrueFlo injection site called. Farmer *John’s * (named changed to protect identity) creek still had some oil in it and he felt like it was not professionally cleaned up, as the EPA had instructed. He said he had heard two close neighbors had their water wells compromised and he wanted to know how to get his well water tested. I had received an anonymous tip the previous week that two landowners, in White County near TrueFlo had concerns their drinking water had been compromised, but had not heard anything more and without names, addresses, or resources, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.
I told him I would swing by Basin Environmental in Carmi and get the ball rolling for him, find out what a test would cost and a number for him to call.
I drove to the frack site, armed only with a camera, a fellow passenger and anticipation that I would be harassed parked along side the county road documenting the ongoing construction of IL’s first high volume frack well.
I turned left and headed back south on the muddy road. Thinking to myself that surely I would have seen something from the blacktop by now. Fields have all been harvested of the corn and soy beans and what looks to be newly planted field of winter wheat but no frack pad. All that anticipation for an aggressive push back and nothing. Why was it so quiet here?
No frack pad in this crop field.
I drove around the countryside looking for other signs, it was all chill and quiet. Nothing to photograph or report. No news is good news.
I headed north to Carmi to stop into the Testing facility. I walked into Basin and asked the receptionist about water testing and she directed me to Matt. I told Matt the farmer who lived downstream from TrueFLo was concerned about his water well and needed— rudely interrupted Matt demanded to know my name.
“Tabitha, John asked me to come in and ask about—“
“Who are you with? What company?” he aggressively asserted, and crossed his arms over his chest.
Extending my hand for an introduction hand shake “Tabitha Tripp, Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment, John asked—
“Get out now!” demanded Matt.
“Could I have a card for—“
“Get in your car and leave now DO NOT TAKE A CARD, GET OUT!”
Water testing facility in Carmi.
I wish I would have carried the camera in on that, so much for bringing a customer to the local lab folks…there is more than one way to skin that cat. In case you all need to have your water tested in the future, I snagged a picture of the truck. No business card needed.
I drove on up to Beall Woods Nature Preserve for a short hike and exploration of one of the few nature preserves in IL that had old growth trees. It was absolutely beautiful. I need to decompress from the months and weeks of dealing with fossil fools in the that part of the state and needed to see some beauty. Phone turned off, I strolled down the worn path and breathed in the humid November air. There were walnut trees that must have been nearly 200 years old. Giant Oak Trees that were majestic in their expanse toward the sky. I was holding back tears and emotion and focused on my breath and the now. I spent some time looking at the Wabash and Coffee Creek. Amazed the trees appeared unscathed by all the pollution surrounding the area. Coal mines, oil wells and failing injection wells. It’s only a matter of time before the poison bubbles up from below.
Two hours later when I opted to turn on my phone back on before the cumbersome drive home, notifications ding and ding, voicemails and text messages. Jeez- what the heck happened in that two hours. Just minutes down the road, it rings. “Tabitha- where did you hear the Woolsey Permit was pulled?”
“WHAT???!!!- I didn’t post anything, I’ve been offline all day, I’m in White County investigating the TrueFlo contamination issue. Folks are complaining about their water wells going bad.”
Beall Woods State Park and Nature Preserve
Another text, another call or three later— holy crap— verified on the state website. Woolsey withdrew, cause stated was economic burden. But after reading a little further into the letter posted on the IDNR website it also states the withdrawal of the injection well permit. I assume it was an injection well to take the place of TrueFlo which is still not complying with the IL EPA notice of violations from the August oil spill of thousands of gallons of crude oil and brine.
Farmer John is still attempting to talk to the state to voice his concerns about the shoddy clean up job done by TrueFlo. The state has not responded to his calls yet. He said they built earth dams in the creek to contain the residual oil left on the trees and creek bed and said they were waiting for more rain. I guess TrueFlo abides by the old adage “The Solution to pollution is dilution.”
While they were building the dirt dams, the workers sliced through Farmer John internet line. These poor workers can’t win for loosing! He also said he went to the courthouse this morning to talk to the judge who was overseeing the state filed complaint against TrueFlo, but that it was being held in the chambers on a private conference call.
Farmer John tells me he waited for the Judge and introduced himself and explained the situation at his farm, the oil on the trees and in the creek and that the state would not return his calls. Judge told him there would be a hearing and the matter would be settled and that the Judge would ensure he had time to talk to anyone he pleased at the hearing to get the answer he was seeking.
Farmer John’s well water test results may be a few weeks in coming but we will report back and let you all know what we find out.
In the meantime, let’s enjoy what this victory feels like. It’s been a long 6 months since I read the email late one night about the application for the first fracking well in IL.
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a win. I know someone will come and rain on the parade but just for today, I will savory the economic excuse and relish in the goosebumps feeling of winning.
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