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Organic Message: Fracking and Farming Don't Mix

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"Buy Fresh, Buy Local" has become the mantra of the organic farming movement in the Northeast, a growing agricultural trend that has sprouted in the Marcellus Shale region where an equally powerful industry boom is buying up the land and erecting rigs to extract natural gas.

The Marcellus Shale region of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia counts the highest concentration of organic farms, raising concerns that fracking will jeopardize produce and cause risks to farm animals. Farming and fracking, many believe, don't mix.

Finding farmers to speak out against the shale gas industry has become almost as difficult as determining the chemicals used in the secret blends of fracking fluids.

Marilyn and Robert Hunt own a 70-acre organic farm in Wetzel County, W.V., where they raise goats, chickens, goats and cattle. When the landman from Chesapeake Energy approached the Hunts to lease their mineral rights, Marilyn did some research and turned down the offer. That did not stop Chesapeake from "stealing gas from both sides of our property," she said.

In 2010, Chesapeake began drilling the Durig Well pad near the Hunts' property along Route 89. Hunt said Chesapeake received a permit for land disposal near her property and dumped waste on her land that infected her family and her animals.

"The water got little white flecks in it, and we started to get sick," said Hunt, "We lost a whole lot of baby goats that got gastrointestinal disorders from drinking the water." In addition, some of the baby chicks her daughter was raising died of nervous system failure, and the ones that survived were deformed. Interestingly, though, the cattle that drink from the spring water on the highest point of her property were spared any adverse impact, leading Hunt to believe it was the water contaminated by the fracking waste that caused illnesses. 


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