My Farm House: 12-year-old Girl Discusses Fracking at Her Front Door

Sep 14, 2012

12-year-old Deborah Partin lives in a historic farm house along route 260 in Monroe County bordering the Ohio River in southeastern Ohio. She lives there with her parents, Ruth and Mike, a few horses, chickens, goats, cats, and dogs. They grow berries and other crops on 205 acres of land.

Companies are using a technique called horizontal drilling to extract the prized oil and gas trapped deep in the Marcellus Shale beds, 6000 feet below the ground's surface. To transport the fracking fluids, they use exposed roadside pipelines and trucks. But the oil and gas industry is poorly regulated and costly mistakes have been left behind -- one right at Deborah's doorstep.

She decided to do something about it. She's making films about fracking and distributing them to local communities.

"I'm interested in saving our farm and our animals and my family. I don't want our water and everything to get poisoned. The grass the horses eat getting poisoned and the water and everything. It's about 5 miles from our house - the drill rig - but we can hear it when they flare off the well. I mean, you can hear it all the way from our house and the sky was lit up. We could see it from our bathroom window."

"Now there's more traffic. And these are big trucks zooming by. You gotta watch out. I ride my horses and the neighbor down the road has horses and we ride. They go down the state route."

"There was a 10-mile spill of a waste management truck all the way down in front of our house. It's about 10 yards from our front door."

"Our chickens and dogs go across the road and it was drill cuttings and depending on what depth they're at the could be radioactive, lots of different things, poisonous. Nobody ever came and cleaned it up. They said they hired someone to come out and clean it up. And the next day it rained. So it goes off the sides of the road and into the grass."

[Sheri Quinn]: "What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about it?"

"It can contaminate. The gas companies say 'we've never contaminated one water well', but it's not true."

Deborah and her parents are urging land owners to at least get baseline radiation testing of their water before the oil and gas companies start drilling on or near their property.