Judy Armstrong Stiles had no idea what she was signing away when she and her husband Carl agreed to let Chesapeake Energy operate natural gas wells on their Bradford County land.
That was three years ago. For Carl, it was a lifetime.
Soon after the company started using hydraulic fracturing to develop the horizontally drilled wells, both she and her husband began suffering severe rashes. They also complained of stomach aches, dizziness, fatigue, aching joints and forgetfulness, Stiles told Shalefield Stories in November 2012.
â€śWe saw doctors who tried to figure out what was wrong with us,â€ť she said. â€śOur symptoms mirrored so many other diseases and disorders. The doctors could not figure out what the problem was, and our health kept deteriorating.â€ť
A few months later, a large hole that gave off a terrible smell and leaked a foam-like substance opened in their front yard. Then their daughter moved in and soon she, too, was sick.
Stiles said they paid to have their water tested -- water Stiles said was yellow and odorous. The test showed their water was contaminated with lead, methane, propane, ethane, ethene, barium, magnesium, strontium and arsenic. They called the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which made a â€śvisual determinationâ€ť that their water contained methane.