A Fracking First in Pennsylvania: Cattle Quarantine, Kusnetz, Nicholas , ProPublica, (2010)


Agriculture officials have quarantined 28 beef cattle on a Pennsylvania farm after wastewater from a nearby gas well leaked into a field and came in contact with the animals.

The state Department of Agriculture said the action was its first livestock quarantine related to pollution from natural gas drilling. Although the quarantine was ordered in May, it was announced Thursday.

Carol Johnson, who along with her husband owns the farm in north-central Pennsylvania, said she noticed in early May that fluids pooling in her pasture had killed the grass. She immediately notified the well owner, East Resources Inc.

"You could smell it. The grass was dying," she said. "Something was leaking besides ground water."

The Johnsons' farm sits atop the Marcellus Shale, a layer of rock that lies under swaths of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. As ProPublica has reported, reports have proliferated of groundwater pollution, spills and other impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique that injects massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground to break up the formations that hold the gas.

See: Appalachia | Shell (formerly East Resources)