Silt Residents Rally Against Gas Drilling in Town
KREX News Room
A Silt Mesa resident has turned her property into a veritable billboard, protesting the gas pads that have begun springing up near her home with little to no warning.
“One day, this convoy of trucks just starts rolling through,” Beth Strudley said, standing outside her home and motioning to the new gas pad in the distance. “They started drilling and after 11 days, they were already ‘fracking’. That’s how quick they were.”
It was just the first of several gas pads Denver-based Antero Resources would start constructing in the area. In response to Antero's operations in her backyard, Strudley began putting up large signs all over her property. A large white banner proclaiming, “Antero is going to poison our water,” with an ominous black skull and crossbones sits in her front yard. Smaller signs that say, “We are terrified of what Antero is doing to our water, air and land!” stand next to the street. The messages “FRACKING KILLS” and “ANTERO=POISON” hang in the windows.
“I’m going to protect my family no matter what,” Strudley said. “I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll tell my message to whomever I can, and hopefully someone will listen.”
Strudley says it didn’t take long for her family, neighbors, and even herself to become seriously ill from the gas pad. She says for the past two weeks, flames reaching 50 feet high have been spewing from on of the pad’s apparatuses.
“It smells like burnt chemicals,” Strudley said. “I don’t know what they are, but they stink. We get really scratchy throats, really sore eyes, and rashes from it. One of my neighbors is so sick she can’t leave the house.”
Strudley says her family immediately stopped using tap water when the first Antero truck arrived. The family has instead been living off of delivered water jugs and even installed an expensive new cistern to start hauling in water.
Strudley says soon after drilling began, Silt residents received a letter from the town warning them that their drinking water was contaminated with high levels of a chemical called total trihalomethanes. The letter says TTHMs form as a result of adding chlorine to drinking water.
“We were at a lecture this past weekend and found out sometimes gas companies inject chlorine into the ground before they frack,” Strudley said. “I don’t know why, but we just thought it was very coincidental that this letter came out right before Antero started fracking.”
Now Strudley is rallying neighbors on the Silt Mesa along with residents in Battlement Mesa, where Antero has also started building well pads near homes. Strudley has even ordered t-shirts and pins--anything, she says, to get her message out.