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November 17, 2012

Shell addresses concerns for Henry organic farm

NEW CASTLE — A Shell Appalachia spokeswoman said the company has been responsive to concerns of a North Beaver Township organic farmer.

Kimberly Windon, business communications manager for Shell, has tried to dispel their fears, saying the company has looked closely at the potential for abandoned and unplugged gas and oil wells existing on the property of Dale and Maggie Henry of Columbiana Road.

Shell is drilling on the nearby Kephart property off Route 551, which was the site of a two-hour peaceful picket Monday by anti-fracking demonstrators from across the state.

More than 30 people gathered with signs and expressed concerns about the water and safety of the nearby organic farm and houses in relationship to fracking.

But Windon said their concerns are basically unfounded, especially where the Henry farm is concerned.

Shell conducted extensive surveys using multiple technologies on the Henry property, including ground penetration radar and metal detection surveys, Windon said.

“We also excavated the area of most concern by Mrs. Henry and conducted soil sampling, and found no sign of any sort of hydrocarbons,” she said.

“Additionally we walked her entire property to try to identify any suspected wells, but nothing’s been found.”

Henry had visited the county commissioners a couple of months ago and presented maps showing dozens of abandoned gas and oil wells that are thought to exist throughout western Lawrence County, some that she feared were on her property and posed a potential hazard to her organic farming operation, should fracking take place nearby.

“She pointed out to us what she suspected were abandoned oil and gas wells,” Windon said. “A piece of pipe sticking out of the ground looks like it could be an abandoned well. But we dug down 12 feet and found only a 3-foot piece of pipe sticking in the ground.”

Other concrete cylinders that Henry had identified as suspicious were culvert pipe and not oil- and gas-related, Windon said.

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