I am a resident of Lantana and have become quite concerned with the rapid development of gas drilling in our area. There are at least 10 well sites that I have observed surrounding the Lantana community. I have done significant research on the potential environmental problems that can result from drilling. It seems that regulations are very lax and there is no consistent inspection process to ensure that wells are complying with emission requirements.
I believe that many residents are not aware of the potential harmful effects from these wells being in close proximity to residential areas. I for one, initially believed that after a well was completed, there was no further impact on the environment. I have since learned that the gas well sites are constantly venting toxic emissions in the atmosphere from the tanks and that the sludge pits contain produced water which can also be toxic. I have also learned that the fracturing process involves the injection of millions of gallons of chemicals deep into the ground to assist in releasing the gas. Additionally, we are subjected to the never ending traffic and pollution from the tanker trucks that transport the wastewater to disposal sites. These trucks destroy our roads and are carrying potentially hazardous waste through our neighborhoods. Lastly, I recently discovered that the companies dispose of the drilling mud on “land farms” which are simply open fields where the mud is dumped. The mud can contain dangerous residual chemicals and as it dries in the fields it is blown into the air. Many of these farms are also located in residential areas near schools and homes posing additional health concerns.
I am not suggesting that gas drilling should be stopped. I understand the economic importance and need for this energy source. However, I believe we need to develop sensible, verifiable regulations to ensure the preservation of our air, water, and land quality. If this rampant development is allowed to continue uncontrolled, the character of our towns will be dramatically altered and our health will be at risk.
I am specifically concerned with the gas well that sits on the property of Harpool Middle School, adjacent to the tennis courts and running track. I find it amazing that the gas company was granted a permit for this location. How can it make sense to locate an industrial site with potential health risks next to a school? How can we be certain the air that our children breathe while attending this school is safe?
I have recently become aware that several town councils have begun adopting ordinances to regulate the drilling in their towns. The objective is to ensure the health and safety of all residents without infringing on the rights of landowners to drill. Perhaps we can consider adopting a similar ordinance in Lantana and suggest it to the surrounding communities as well?