Ivan Dubrasky is the fourth generation of his family to live in his Old Pulaski Road home.
He and his wife, Kathy, always thought that someday their son, Derek, 32, would take over their Pulaski Township home on 1.36 acres surrounded by farmland.
Now they are not so sure.
Six months ago they learned that Hilcorp Energy Co., a Texas-based company, will drill seven horizontal gas wells on farmland owned by Lorrie D. Speir-Chrastina directly across the road from them.
The wellpad is currently awaiting zoning approval from the Pulaski Township supervisors.
Although most of their neighbors have signed oil and gas leases, the Dubraskys have declined to do so out of concern for their water supply. Now the couple faces a wellpad within 200 feet of their home and 510 feet from their well.
The 66-year-old said his concerns stem from what he has learned at area meetings about the damage fracking has caused to water supplies in other parts of the state.
He also is wary because of the experience of a neighbor. Out his back window, Ivan Dubrasky can see the lights from the Whiting wellpad and compressor station on Garner Road. A neighbor who lives near that facility has experienced problems with his wellwater.
“He had propane and methane and bacteria in the well,” he said, adding the man’s doctor is advising him not to drink the wellwater “even though Hilcorp’s telling him that everything’s OK.”
At a zoning hearing last week, a Hilcorp official assured Kathy Dubrasky, 59, that if there are problems, the company is required by the state to respond to complaints within 48 hours. A Hilcorp engineer told her the underground water flows away from their home, which is at 5339 Old Pulaski Road.
But she said 48 hours could be a long time if something is wrong. And her husband noted his home is worthless if his water is harmed. “We couldn’t give this place away without water.”
Operations at the Chrastina wellpad also will ruin the peace of the country home where Kathy Dubrasky, an amateur photographer, often snapped pictures of the farm across the street.
“I took pictures all the time, of the sun going down or the moon glowing.”
But now the wellpad will be “right outside our picture window,” her husband pointed out.
“It is a 100-acre farm and they picked the 10 acres right in front of our house” for the wellpad, Kathy Dubrasky said.
Why they chose this particular location baffles the Dubraskys.
Kathy Dubrasky testified at a township zoning meeting last week that the access road to the wellpad — which is 50 yards from their front door, is situated between two blind hills that are regularly used by the Amish in horse-drawn buggies.
The couple said they have seen other wellpads and know they bring a lot of noise, lights and disruption, with numerous trucks and heavy equipment.
But they’re not planning on leaving.
This is also a bad time because Ivan Dubrasky, who is retired, will be convalescing over the next month or two from a second hip replacement surgery made necessary by an accident. This means he will be largely confined to his home while the drilling goes on. Once the drilling is completed, the well drilling rig will be replaced by smaller structures. But the view out the front window will never be the same, the couple said.
A few weeks ago police were called to the Dubraskys’ home after an incident with surveyors for Hilcorp who had been working near his property. Ivan Dubrasky said the incident was blown out of proportion.
Although police reports stated he had told surveyors he had an AR 15 and ammunition, Dubrasky claimed he never said anything threatening to the surveyors. He said he had gone across the road and asked who they are. He said he told them he had concerns about the wellpad.
That day, Dubrasky explained, he was sighting in a gun for an acquaintance, something he does for different people, and deliberately waited until the surveyors were out of sight before firing it. “The guys said I was shooting at them.”
Police arrived and took his gun, he said, although he showed them the target and the empty shells. He said they returned his gun a few days later and no charges have been filed.
Dubrasky said he never threatened anyone and the incident was “all garbage.”
Kathy Dubrasky said her husband is a hunter and “sports fanatic” and everyone doesn’t understand the lifestyle. “Nowadays you have to watch who you offend.”
She said the oil and gas drilling issue “has Pulaski so divided.
“We’re not out there to make enemies of our neighbors. We want to live peacefully. We just want to be left alone.”
Hillcorp explains wellpad factors
The location of a wellpad is the result of many factors, according to a Hilcorp official.
In a written statement, Justin Furnace, corporate manager of external affairs, said locating a well is “a complex puzzle that focuses on solving two complementary objectives.”
He said that because of environmental concerns, the company first tries to minimize surface impact by developing as many acres as possible from a single wellpad.
The company also tries to maximize the amount of oil and gas recovered, he continued, to maximize economic benefit to “both the landowners and the community.”
He said factors that came into play at the Chrastina wellpad were zoning regulations, wetland restrictions, structures requiring setbacks and technical and legal limitations on placement of wellbores.
He said the resulting drilling will benefit a maximum number of landowners who are entitled to receive royalties.
He said the location is in compliance with “all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.”