Friday, August 20, 2010
Roads Crumbling to Dust under Heavy Truck Traffic
According to my local guide, Marcellus drilling has just started in the area. But already there has been a lot of road damage. We drove along one road (shown in photo) which, until the drilling had begun, was paved. There was not a lick of asphalt to be seen, however; it had been ground to dust. But there was a continuous train of dump trucks hauling dirt and gravel, and road machinery to grade and roll the surface so that the residents had a smooth dirt road to drive on.
A similar thing happened closer to home. Epsilon Energy drilled three wells in the neighboring town of Van Etten (Chemung county, NY). Prior to drilling, the company entered into an agreement with the town board that, 30 days after a well was completed, they would fix the roads. So in mid-to late-March they began moving the heavy equipment in, and preparing the drill pads and by the beginning of April the roads were in bad condition (you can read earlier post here)
By May the drilling was pretty much done and residents figured that the road repair would be happening soon. A road construction company did eventually put down a layer of crushed gravel, but the road was never completed. "They told our highway superintendent that they wanted to put off completing the road repair till they had drilled into Marcellus," said Van Etten Town Supervisor George Keturi. Problem is, Epsilon won't be drilling into Marcellus anytime soon - maybe as long as another year before they get those permits.
That's not good enough for the people who live there and whose children ride the school bus back and forth on that road. So at the August 12 town board meeting one of the residents told the board to force the company to repair the road. As of yesterday Epsilon has agreed to do the repairs.
Meanwhile, Epsilon's failure to take their promises to fix roads seriously has sent the wrong sort of message to the town board. While neighboring town boards are sending resolutions to the State Legislature urging them to refrain from voting on a drilling moratorium, Van Etten's town board has not. Says supervisor Keturi, "Because of what happened, our town board will not be signing any resolutions supporting gas drilling."