About half a dozen anti-drilling activists locked down to a paper mache pig on Sunday, blocking the entrance to a well site operated by Shell. Maggie Henry, an organic pig farmer whose farm is next door to the Marcellus Shale drill site, says she’s worried how the operation may impact her livestock and organic certification.
“People buy my food because they know that it is literally the purest that you can get,” says Henry in a press release issued by the shadbushcollective.org. Henry says her pigs aren’t caged, but roam freely. The Lawrence County farmer says she goes so far as to avoid feeding her pigs genetically modified soy beans. “This threatens my air, my water, my farm, my livelihood,” says Henry.
The well had been flaring for several weeks.
The pig protest ended peacefully, after activists negotiated with state troopers on the scene. So no arrests were made. Shell Western E&P operates 26 wells in Lawrence County, none of which have been hit with violations. But a Shell operated well in Tioga County this summer caused a 30 foot geyser of water and methane to erupt after coming in contact with an old abandoned well. For more on the threat of abandoned wells to fracking operations, view our series Perilous Pathways.
Shell responded to the protest by acknowledging the farmer’s concerns and providing a hotline number to call.
The owner of the property, Tom Kephart, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Marcellus Shale was a “blessing” for the region.
“I have no animosity toward the protesters, but they’re infringing on my rights,” said Mr. Kephart, who grows crops on the 150-acre site where the drill is set up.
Houston-based Shell operates about 760 active Marcellus Shale gas wells in the state. The most recent data from DEP shows 211 violations, with no fines assessed.