John Fenton and his wife Cathy have farmed cattle in the small rural town of Pavillion for decades. Twenty-four gas wells now pepper John’s farm and all of them are visible from his front porch.
The green pastures that supported his family for generations have been fragmented by pipelines, production tanks and compressor stations pumping out industrial fumes.
After the gas companies moved in and started hydraulic fracking, his neighbours’ water turned black and started smelling like diesel fuel.
Initially John thought he’d escaped the negative impacts, but testing soon confirmed toxic methane, propane and benzene in his water supply.
The underground aquifers his farm depends on were polluted. In 2010, the US EPA confirmed that local water supplies were contaminated with dangerous chemicals caused by gas fracking. The government agency warned Pavillion residents not to drink their water and to ventilate their homes when bathing or washing clothes to avoid the risk of explosion.
The gas company now trucks in drinking water for local farmers. Some eat from paper plates because they cannot wash dishes without contamination. Common health effects include nosebleeds, dizziness, loss of smell and taste, and neuropathy.
After appearing in the hit film Gasland, John Fenton has become a leading voice against gas fracking in the US.
An effective and authentic communicator, John’s powerful story about the potential consequences of unconventional gas fracking should serve as a warning to Australia.
John is embarking on a tour of Australia’s east coast and will be sharing his story from 6pm on February 24 at the Bangalow A&I Hall. The evening will be hosted by Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Jan Barham.
See more about John’s tour at www.fentontour.com.