Fractured Earth

2015, Environment  -   16 Comments
Ratings: 7.76/10 from 71 users.

Fractured Earth is a short but impassioned documentary about the impact of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in rural Pennsylvania. Photojournalist Les Stone sets out to consult with a handful of locals in the towns of Dimock and Towanda, PA, where the fracking industry has wreaked havoc. Through first-hand accounts we learn about the struggles working-class Pennsylvanians have endured at the hands of the natural gas industry since 2008.

Hydraulic fracturing involves drilling into the Earth and penetrating the shale layer by inserting a high-pressure combination of water, sand and chemicals into the ground in order to crack it apart and release natural gas. Accessing these natural gasses is meant to lessen our reliance on foreign oil by providing an affordable domestic resource, but the ultimate cost to locals is revealed to be devastating. Throughout the film average citizens share their tales of polluted water sources and corporate intimidation.

Ray Kemble, a former truck driver for the gas industry, has Stone bear witness to the emptying of his water well. After a few minutes of flushing, the water starts to darken and Stone confirms a significant foul smell emanates from it. It is inarguably undrinkable. Raymond Mayerzack, a local fisherman, points to a massive fish die-out that he believes was caused when a truck carrying fracking-related liquids overturned into an area lake. Several families tell of their dependence on bottled water after their wells were contaminated by methane and shale gas, rendering it undrinkable despite the DEP's insistence to the contrary. And while each of these interview subjects can point to documentation about their pollution and contamination claims, the Department of Environmental Protection and gas industry representatives continue to deny liability.

Doug McLinko, Bradford County Commissioner (Towanda, PA) defends the benefits of natural gas, citing an increase in the local economy from industry-related jobs, yet farmers who initially chose to cooperate with the fracking companies have not seen the financial rewards they were promised. Fractured Earth leaves very little room for a pro-fracking argument, making an incriminating case against the natural gas industry and its proponents.

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16 Comments / User Reviews

  1. james hayden

    why is it that once they pump some of the stuff out of the ground they use to brake up the ground with, the tank trailers they pump it into can never be used again for anything a person cant go in these trailers they cant be washed out it sounds bud to me

  2. Katherine

    The central message of this documentary is that oil fracking often releases chemicals into the soil which then ends up in wells and water systems, causing drinking water to be poisonous and undrinkable. However, fracking companies often deny this evident fact, upsetting many people who live near to fracking sites. This message was clearly demonstrated through interviews with people who are negatively affected by fracking. They showed how it changed their water to be discoloured, scented, and other abnormal things. To improve the effectiveness of the message, and interview with the fracking company would have been beneficial. The filmmakers want you to join their bias of fracking negatively affecting water quality, which then causes animals and communities to suffer. Personally I agree with this bias, but I did before watching the documentary too. I would recommend this documentary to people who disagree with the practice of fracking because it gives good evidence towards its negative effects.

  3. Jessie Bradley

    It’s a bit of a he said she said story. The companies say there is no contamination and the locals indicate there is. I remain sceptical about the situation until I learn more about the actual mechanisms of fracking and see some real scientific reports indicating contamination due to fracking. However, at this point I am more inclined to lean toward the side of the locals simply because there is no reason for so many people to complain if there isn’t something going on.

  4. jenny may

    Malcolm The earth is alive,,,where do you think you came from. Chris People who use their wells everyday for drinking , I think would know if their water was drinkable before the drilling started. They were told it would not cause contamination so Why would they test ,,,we know better now..It is a cause / effect. From what I can calculate , 38900 micro is 38.9 milligrams ..would you drink it..

  5. Chris

    I am only on 5:11 and already the biased nature of this is coming across, Letting a local woman with no education read INCORRECT data she has obtained (ug is micro gram not milligram so 39 ug = 0.039 milligrams) is the reason it is clear that these people are making mountains out of mole hills. The fact is local people weren't testing their home wells until they had reason to. If you test any poorly drilled, old water supply before the fracking you would have found similar products.

  6. ProudinUS

    The oil fields over in the Dakotas have given a lot of Americans an excellent income. So, unless you're the only one in your household supporting everyone, keep your lips shut.

  7. Russ Tul

    Wouldn't the whole controversy be resolved immediately if the EPA would just answer two questions: (1) Are there any fracking chemicals in the relevant aquifers? (2) If so, are the chemicals hazardous?

    1. larm007

      1) yes, 2) yes.

  8. Malcolm Smith

    Water can be undrinkable with or without human intervention and its bound to be more likely round oil and gas reserves but If fracking has affected the local water in some places but it provides much cheaper oil and gas to the world then Id say over all we have still benefited.

    1. Robbieluv

      Malcolm!! What an amazing response!!
      The earth is being killed - what is the cost of that? My grand babies lives are literally being threatened. It's heart breaking!

    2. Malcolm Smith

      The earth can't be killed it has never been alive. What matters is the effect on us and future generations and I think it negative effects are negligible compared to the benefits.
      Cheaper gas helps green energy as gas power plants are relied on heavily to deal with intermittences cheaper gas would make green energy cost effective in more locations. Oil is used for plastics, roads for fuel and many other commercial applications its price has a huge effect on the cost of living and the cost to the governments for things such as road maintenance freeing up money to be reallocated to education, research and health. Also the locations chosen for fracking have low population densities and by and large it's only humans who are affected not wildlife. If the locals groundwater has been affected they should and I should hope are compensated appropriately by the company's responsible or their insurance policy.

    3. Ricardo Martinez

      So you are saying its acceptable to pollute the natural resources of rural areas so that people in cities can benefit? And compensation isn't everything, Humans can't eat, drink, or breathe money. We need to be more responsible.

    4. Malcolm Smith

      What's shown in the video is something you can get naturally round places high in oil and gas.
      Also fuel can be used to harvest and transport crops and help construct reservoirs gas helps support green energy and it's cleaner to burn than liquid or solid hydrocarbons.

    5. FollowTheFacts of the most amazingly wrong-headed comments I have ever seen here...but the writer doesn't understand what he is suggesting...

  9. THCjunky

    Fracking must stop, it destroy's the planet poisening the water with all the toxic chemicals killing the animals en mankind. Think of the future, its to precious!

  10. SvenTheBold

    Someone should organize a protest where everyone affected by fracking takes a waterbottle, fills it with their own tap water, and mails it to Washington with the label: "According to the oil industry, this is drinkable."