Published by WJHL News Channel 11 on May 16, 2014
WASHINGTON COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – By Allie HInds, Reporter
Some Southwest Virginia landowners say discussions detailing the possibility of drilling for oil and gas is bad news.
The proposal has generated controversy because it will involve a process known as fracking.
Fracking involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to extract oil and gas from rock formations.
Washington County, Virginia homeowners reached out to us to express concerns about the process, which they fear could contaminate their drinking water and their property values.
“My home is the only asset we have. It’s all we have and if my water gets contaminated and I lose that, I’m going to have nothing,” Pamela Davis, who lives the Benhams area where the Southeast Land and Mineral company has applied to drill.
When she found this out, “I was mad,” Davis said.
Davis and her neighbors are all on well or spring water, water from the same ground that fracking would put chemicals in to.
“This just needs to be stopped. Before that first drill goes in to the ground the citizens of that area, if this is going to be permitted need to be afforded potable water,” Davis said.
But county officials say it’s not that easy.
How much power the county has to stop the fracking is still in question.
“Our job at hand has been to try to devise an ordinance to control some of the things that they can and can’t do,” Washington County Planning and Zoning commissioner Mike Felty said.
He said the company is adamant it won’t contaminate the water but, like Davis, that doesn’t ease his concerns.
“My question has always been if they ‘re so sure there’s no way they can contaminate the water, you know why would they not agree to out in writing they’ll pay to get county water there,” Felty said.
Davis said through hours of research and trying to get answers, one question remains.
“Once it’s contaminated what’s my recourse?” Davis asks.
The planning and zoning commission will hold a public meeting Monday evening at 6:30 p. m. at the Government Center building in Abingdon to further discuss the issue and ordinance.
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