Friday, May 7, 2010
Zimmerman Family Gets Burned For $11 Million
VIDEO: ''Ruined,' Says Hopewell Township Property Owner
Look at George Zimmerman in Hopewell. He spent $11 million cash, building his dream farm.
About 500 acres where he grows heirloom tomatoes, and a vineyard. He's rich. But he's not a greedy landowner who put others at risk for personal gain.
GEORGE DOESN'T OWN THE MINERAL RIGHTS TO HIS PROPERTY. THE PREVIOUS OWNER WAS PAID ON THE LEASE AND ROYALTIES. ALL GEORGE GOT WAS SOLD OUT. $11,000,000 AND A LOT OF WORK GONE.
George spent $2 million on a 12,000 square foot house. He had 3 perfect, spring fed water wells, as verified by pre-drilling tests. He and his wife have an eight-year-old son and eight-month-old twins.
He's 66 and his dream farm is toast. He rates his chances of selling the property as “slim to none” in light of the proven water contamination.
Fumes ignite at gas well
4/1/2010 3:32 AM
WEST MIDDLETOWN - When George Zimmerman looked out the bedroom window of his Hopewell Township home Wednesday morning, he saw flames shooting 100 feet in the air from a fire at a gas well on his property.
The fire was at the drilling site operated by Atlas Energy Inc., off Fox Road about a mile from Route 844.
Later in the day, a state police fire marshal ruled the blaze an accident, saying a malfunction ignited fumes and caused $375,000 in damages.
"The heat must have been catastrophic," Zimmerman said.
Helen Humphreys, spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said both the tank and pit used to store fluid used in the rock fracturing process caught fire. A storage trailer also burned.
In general, the hydraulic fracturing process used to get gas from the Marcellus Shale involves vertical and horizontal drilling, taking water from the ground, injecting fracturing fluids, chemicals and sands into the formation, withdrawing gas and separating and managing the remaining water.
"The frac tank has a hatch on top," Humphreys said. "Most likely what is happening is the flame was inside. The fire needs oxygen, so the lid to the tank is likely open."
West Middletown fire Chief Ken McDougan said the fire was extinguished at 1:59 p.m.
"The first thing we did is an accounting of all the employees," McDougan said, "Then we tried to figure out what was on fire."
Firefighters backed off for a while until the best course of action was determined.
"Then we jumped back in and started putting the fire out on the equipment around the perimeter," McDougan said. "Then we put out the fire in the tank. The fire in the pit burned itself out."
"It was handled well, and all safety precautions were taken," the chief added. "This is a new hazard coming to the area. It is a whole new ball game, but we've received the training."
The gas company asked that the state police fire marshal be involved.
"I guess they have had some vandalism," McDougan said.
McDougan said one of the gas company employees injured an ankle and was taken to Washington Hospital.
Humphreys confirmed the top of the frac pit liner is badly damaged.
"We are concerned about water from the pit escaping," she said. "It will have to be monitored."
DEP employees have already taken some samples from the area around the site. Atlas has hired Weavertown Environmental to clean up the site.
Avella fire Chief Eric Temple was on his way home from working the midnight shift when he saw a large plume of smoke hovering over West Middletown. The black cloud could be seen for miles.
"Some of my guys were responding to a car wreck so I called them and asked them what the hell the black smoke was," Temple said.
Temple and McDougan investigated and found the well on fire.
Fire crews from West Middletown, Avella, Canton Township and Franklin, W.Va., responded, but were told by the gas company not to use water or foam.
A resident of Fox Road, who asked not to be identified, said the fire was huge.
"It had to be 100 feet high and 50 feet wide," she said. "The smoke would clear for an instant, and then you could see the flames."
She said Atlas keeps a lot of chemicals on the property.
"Trucks loaded with chemicals will be backed up almost to Route 844 waiting to get on the site," she added.
Zimmerman is frustrated by the drilling. He does not own the mineral rights under his 500-acre farm.
"I had no say," Zimmerman said of the well being placed on his property. "Atlas could do whatever they wanted, when they wanted."
This is not the first problem, Zimmerman said. During a three-day period in early December, a discharge went into a pond feeding a stream.
"The DEP told the gas company that the pump needed to be monitored round the clock," Zimmerman said. "But it was unattended for a few days."
Humphreys said the discharge that occurred in December was from a pit filled with fresh water mixed with recycled water.
"They mix it so the water can be used again to frac another well," Humphreys said. "We took samples at the time and did not find anything to cause harm. There was minor contamination but nothing significant."
Zimmerman has also had three wells - one for his home, one for his farm and another for his restaurant - dry up. Another neighbor had to cap his well because of contaminants, including a flammable substance, he said.
"The gas company told us they would run a city water line in March," Zimmerman said. "But that hasn't happened."
Atlas Resources was recently fined $85,000 by the DEP for violations at 13 of its well sites, including one in Washington County.
The violations, which occurred between Dec. 8, 2008, and July 31, centered on the discharge of residual and industrial waste into the ground at seven well sites; failure to maintain erosion and sedimentation control at six sites; and failing to restore two well sites by establishing vegetative cover within nine months of drilling.
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Posted by Angelo at 9:51 PM