Danger in paradise
Ever since I moved back to Youngstown in 1998, I have felt like I live in paradise. My house sits on a piece of property on the West Side of the city, and my backyard borders Mill Creek Park. Despite the fact that I am only a few minutes away from the busy traffic on Mahoning Avenue and the freeway, I can walk in my yard and see beautiful deer, groundhogs, turkeys, squirrels, and songbirds. In the middle of the night, I can hear barred owls calling back and forth to each other. Although some people might not think that salamanders, toads, fish, frogs, and snakes are a big deal, I also feel lucky to find them on and near my property. My home is a place of serenity to me.
I also have neighbors who are unbelievably wonderful. Several times, on winter mornings after a big snowstorm, I have awakened to find that my neighbor across the street has shoveled my driveway. This summer, another neighbor, seeing that a tree had fallen in my backyard, came over and cut it up for me. When I wasn’t feeling well, a woman one street over brought me dinner. Some of my neighbors have become my good friends. Like I said, I live in paradise. And I know that my neighbors on the West Side of Youngstown feel the same way I do.
I have spent countless sleepless nights wondering what I will do if city council allows fracking in Youngstown. What will I do when the drilling results in earthquakes much like the ones caused by the injection well? What will I do when the fish start dying like they did recently in Brookfield as a result of drilling? What will happen to the deer if they drink fracking wastewater, which contains cancer-causing agents and radioactive elements? What will happen to the owls when the air in my neighborhood becomes polluted? Worst of all, what will happen to me, my neighbors, our children, and grandchildren?
Why is it that the oil and gas industry is exempt from the Clean Air and Water Act? Why do they have the right to poison my paradise??
If Mayor Sammarone and city council think that people are moving out of Youngstown because of old, abandoned houses in their neighborhoods, wait until they see how many people move out when the gas industry starts poisoning our air and water. Fracking has already begun right near the Meander Reservoir, the source of our drinking water.
I urge Youngstown residents to call the mayor and tell him not to sell our mineral rights to the oil and gas industry. Youngstown needs jobs, but we don’t need jobs that pollute our land and water and kill our wildlife. We need jobs that support green energy and keep Youngstown safe.
I don’t want to leave my paradise.
Chris Khumprakob, Youngstown