This isn’t “misinformation. ”
It’s not “misrepresenting the facts”
about “responsible gas exploration.”
It’s just what’s already actually happening in and to Wetzel County, WestVirginia.

The following post is copied with permission from


Wetzel County

We’ve seen and heard a presentation by Ray Renaud of the Wetzel County Action Group about what’s happening in north Wetzel County in northern West Virginia (just below the panhandle) where there’s a tremendous amount of drilling activity taking place. Right now the wells being drilled are for Marcellus shale but other companies are getting ready to move in including CNX which is an operator specializing in coalbed methane.

This is a very rural area with only a few roads and those are narrow, about 10 feet wide. Because of all the drilling there is a lot of traffic as equipment and materials are hauled to and from sites. Twenty-four hours a day, as many as 47 trucks an hour.

The well sites are huge with pads covering acres and pits just about as large. Multiple horizontal wells are being drilled and fractured on each pad before the operator moves to a new site. Fracturing requires large amounts of water and sand.

The scale of everything and its effect on the community and environment is hard to imagine. A copy of the presentation as a PowerPoint document is available online but it is a large download, almost 50 MB.

Ray said we could use some of the photos from the presentation.

sootypaws-wetzel-1-slide10 The roads are narrow and wind up and down steep hills. Most of the equipment is much heavier than the roads were designed and built
for — cars and light trucks. This is a holding structure for sand used in
fracturing a well. There will be a large number of these tanks on the pad.


Because of all the traffic there’s a lot of accidents. This truck has rolled over, its cab partially crushed on the guard rail.

We wrote a post a while back about
injuries and accidents in the oil and gas industry. About 25% of deaths are caused by road accidents.


Traffic jams can last for hours and hours. These trucks are parked in front of the volunteer fire department, blocking fire trucks if there were to be an emergency.

The scale of everything is either huge, large or enormous. In the foreground on the right is a three-story barn. In the middle ground is a large volume pit holding fracture fluid.

Operators “dewater” rivers and streams for all the water used in drilling and fracturing, turning good water into waste.


This is a photo taken at night showing just a portion of a pad during drilling a horizontal well. Drilling goes on day and night. Once two wells are drilled on this pad the equipment will be moved to another pad to drill two more wells. Eventually there will be 6 wells on this pad.


The EPA waived sedimentation control requirements for the oil and gas industry. This means that oil and gas sites don’t need to use silt fencing or other control to protect streams, rivers and lakes. The rivers in Wetzel County are now running thick slurry instead of clear water.

Our own gas well study has focused on problems at well sites and older ones at that. What’s happening in Wetzel County, West Virginia, and in parts of Pennsylvania, Texas and Arkansas and a host of other places is the future writ large as the oil and gas industry converts rural America into an industrial wasteland.


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