Simona Perry presents on environmental effects of shale gas in state

Abbey Haldeman, Assistant News editor

Applied anthropologist Simona Perry joined faculty, staff, students and community members Wednesday, Nov. 7, to tell them about “the community and environmental health implications of shale gas development.”

The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research held its first forum for the research of Marcellus Shale gas drilling at 7 p.m. in Stark Learning Center. Student researchers Keri Skalvara, Kristi Ciaston, Stephen Forney and Emily McGrath were all beneficial in putting the presentation together.

Being the first of  two lectures to come  this semester, the topic of this speech hit home with the impacts shale gas development has on Bradford country, which has undergone the “boomtown phenomena.” The boomtown phenomena is when small towns undergo cycles of rapid business and industrial growth, which when shale gas development hit Bradford County did happen.

Perry presented data from research she has been doing for nearly four years on the impacts shale development has on towns people and there everyday life. Before she began with that she touched on the fact that most people don’t get their information from factual sources and are misconstrued and misunderstand the impacts.

Some of the impacts she mentioned during her speech were, economic, which she said have not seemed to change since the start of the shale gas development, increased competition and conflict between land owners, local business growth, damaged or closed roadways and health problems.

For places like Bradford County, who has 1,105 working well sites at this time, what impacts them the most is the usage and damages done to roadways by the influx of water and gas trucks constantly traveling them. Perry said the people of this town find a sense of pride in the fact that most of the roads in their area dirt, much more easily damaged by serious travel.

Another big issue Bradford County has been facing is health issues. Perry said a portion of persons who live there have been breaking out in rashes through which the cause is not known. Some have also been dealing with gestural intestinal issues.

Institute Associate Director Ken Klemow who has given many presentations about the industry, said that presentations like this are important to Wilkes’ students because the Marcellus shale industry is so big in northeastern Pennsylvania He feels that knowledge about the industry varies among people.

Klemow would like for the IEER to continue with presentations such as this. He’d also like to further the education of students by keeping the potential option of offering courses in energy, such as produced in the shale industry. He would like to know, how many students would find interest in such a course.