Energy. Environment. Economy.

Drilling Companies Agree to Settle Fracking Contamination Case for $750,000

Mark Schmerling / courtesy of Protecting Our Waters

Stephanie Hallowich with her children. The Hallowich's sued after they say drilling activity made their children sick. The drilling companies say there is no medical evidence to link the illness to gas drilling.

Range Resources, MarkWest Energy and Williams Gas agreed to settle a high profile contamination case in Washington County for $750,000, according to recently unsealed court records.  An order to unseal the records was entered Wednesday in Washington County Court of Common Pleas by President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca. Judge O’Dell-Seneca reversed an earlier decision to permanently keep the more than 900 pages of court records secret. In the order she stated that the drilling company’s claims of privacy rights had no merit.

StateImpact Pennsylvania has obtained the newly available documents and we’ve posted all 971 pages below. The Hallowich family sued the gas drillers after they say nearby drilling activity, including compressor stations, made their children sick. The mother, Stephanie Hallowich became an outspoken critic of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. But the final settlement imposed a strict gag order on the Hallowich family, as well as the gas drilling companies. The Hallowich family has since moved from their home.

Below are the 971 pages of documents unsealed by the Washington County Court of Common Pleas on Wednesday. To view notes, click on the text highlighted in yellow.


  • DeanMarshall

    About Time! How many more confirmed cases were hushed up by Corporate Settlements of 6 figures or more along with Gag Orders?

  • Alexander Lotorto

    Let’s acknowledge this all occurred under the Rendell administration
    with John Hanger as PA DEP Secretary and that PA Democrats should stop
    inviting them to speak. Ahem, Pike County Democrats…

  • mbaker829

    There is still a chunk of this missing, according to today’s Observer-Reporter.

    • Betlyn Thomas

      The boy really looks sick. Sick from what the equipment? I’d get sick for $750,000. Of course the government gets their shares as well as the lawyers.Then she moves! Funny no one else in the area got sick!

  • dav43054

    again the lies, the lying bastards, and worse yet, the people that believe them

    • tboone

      Did you read the settlement? There was no contamination or illness, contradicting the plaintiffs original claim.

      • ThornyMan

        Did you read the article? Exactly why do you think they would pay the family almost a million dollars and insist on a non-disclosure agreement if they did nothing wrong? There are no test results because the settled before the tests were completed and those tests were never revealed. If you still think the drilling company did nothing wrong here then you are as gullible as a human can get.

      • Manal Saleh

        There was contamination and illness, but their basis for insisting that it wasn’t their fault was that there was no testing BEFORE the drilling occured so there was no way to prove drilling was the reason. The defense is basically, you can’t prove we did it because you didn’t predict we’d do it and test your water beforehand. They’re not denying anything, they’re just saying that nothing can be proven,

  • mbaker829

    Has anyone heard if the newspapers’ lawyers received the missing documents – the ones that weren’t there when the files were unsealed?

  • Sidney Sherman

    lying bastards is right and the worst among them is EPA.

  • Charlie Williams

    => List of the Harmed

    An ever-growing list of the individuals and families that have been harmed by fracking (or shale gas production) in the US.

    • tboone

      According to the plaintiffs affidavit they were not “harmed”.

      • Charlie Williams

        You’re cynically downplaying more than 1,000 cases.

        English dictionary:



        1. physical or mental injury or damage

        2. moral evil or wrongdoing


        (tr) to injure physically, morally, or mentally

  • Kim Feil

    Another secret being kept is happening in Arlington TX on citizens that call 911 during gas drilling pad site emission events where EMT’s responded to health effects during the releases. The first Attorney General ruling from the April 2011 event was that only part of the info could be released and left it up to the city to decide which part is public information. The second request from the 1/31/13 “Cowboys Stadium smells like Chesapeake Cat Piss” event is still under consideration at the Attorney Generals office to be released or not. So when people are sickened by nearby padsite emissions and call for EMT’s to respond… that is not public information in Arlington gasland Texas….wtf? I live, breathe, and blog in BarnettShaleHell.

  • The Informed

    The Gas companies are lying! The DEP is lying!!!!, The EPA is lying! Everyone is lying except a bunch of useful idiots (Gazprom thanks you) whose knowledge of science wouldn’t fill a thimble. I wonder why Venezuela funded the ridiculous “Gasland” and the United Arab Emirates funded “Promised Land.” If you want to trace the money, trace it back to the foreign energy concerns who are stirring up and funding the uniformed. Oh, here is a great article we will never hear about:

    • ThornyMan

      And where are the reports from the drilling companies showing the before and after effects of fracking on the environment? Oh wait, they refuse to test the soil and water until there is an accident, then refuse to disclose what chemicals they used so they can’t be blamed for contamination. This argument isn’t about wind power, it’s about the destructive nature of the fracking process and you, as most pro-frackers do, are once again avoiding the real issue. Do you think the drilling company would have paid $750,000 and insisted on a gag order if they honestly thought they had nothing to do with the families health issues? If so I’ve got some land in Florida I’d love to sell you, Halliburton will guarantee it’s safety.

  • GrandmasThinking

    All through the years of debate, one of the main issues was the lack of public information and the industry’s attempts to keep reports private. Well congratulations Judge O’Dell-Seneca. Thank you for taking this important step!

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