To the editor,
Of the twenty-four families living on the west side of town, eight of them have children with nervous system disorders, three have family members diagnosed with leukemia, and of these twenty-four families six have had to suffer through the calamity of miscarriages. As a concerned citizen, I had to ask; ???What is happening on west side???
To answer this I first looked for any commonalities between the families, other than location. At first, I thought it might be a matter of genetics, but only three of the families are related by blood and two through marriage. The only common ground, I could find is in the fact that the west side of town gets its drinking water from the Silverlake reservoir, which as we know sits atop an aquifer. How could the aquifer have become contaminated Further research was necessary.
I started my research going through this newspaper??™s morgue, reading over any articles I could find on land development on the west side that may have contaminated the aquifer. Here is what I found.
Seven years ago, the town council gave approval for NextGen Gas to drill north-west of town after geologists found evidence of large pocket of natural gas. NextGen uses a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or ???fracking??? which they claim is safe. However, they suffered a malfunction about six years ago, which was reported in this very newspaper, they then issued a statement in which they claimed the malfunction in no way affected the environment. The following year, Silverlake elementary reported its highest absentee rate due to ???flu???.
I do not want to blame NextGen for the west side??™s problems, but further investigation through the Environmental Protection Agency??™s website noted that one of the solvents used in natural gas extraction is 2-butoyethanol, or 2-BE. Researchers have shown that 2-BE as a contaminant can cause the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in the urine and feces, it can also damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and blood marrow. The next step was to show that NextGen utilized the solvent. Luckily, the report given to the city council is public record and there on page 36 of the 44-page report, listed amongst other solvents was 2-BE. Again, I am not saying this is the reason for rash of medical problems suffered by the west side, but after two-and-a-half months of research, it is the most likely.
I would suggest that the readers of this fine publication urge the city council into having not only the water in the Silverlake reservoir tested but that of the aquifer as well. I would also suggest readers send an email to the EPA as well, asking them for their help in this matter.
If NextGen is indeed, responsible then our entire community needs to rally behind the needs and welfare of those amongst us that reside on the west side and see that NextGen takes responsibility for their actions.
I personally plan to donate two gallons of clean, purified water to the families each day until such a time as the reservoir is declared contaminant-free. Who is with me, who is willing to donate two gallons a day to help our neighbors