By Ed Runyan
Patricia McCrudden, a resident of Westwood Mobile Home Park in Weathersfield Township, says the peace and tranquility she has enjoyed for more than 20 years has been disturbed for the past several months by gas and oil drilling nearby.
McCrudden lives about 800 feet from the well drilled by Halcon Resources on Brunstetter Road in Lordstown, which has resulted in bright lights from the rig shining on her home, the sounds and feel of drilling and — over the past week — the loud noises resulting from hydraulic fracturing.
“At night, the lights come on. It reminds me of an oil refinery,” she said Wednesday after attending a Trumbull County commissioners meeting.
She has placed blinds on her doors and mini-blinds on her windows, as well as other materials, but the lights keep her awake.
Over the past week, the noise level has gotten worse.
“It sounds like 10 freight trains going by or an airplane jet engine,” she said.
Last week, John Williams of McDonald and other fracking activists attended the commissioners meeting to complain that Halcon is using diesel pumps during the fracturing process that use hundreds of gallons of fuel per day.
Williams wanted the commissioners’ help to get Halcon to consider using natural-gas operated pumps because the diesel pumps emit more fumes.
At Wednesday’s commissioners meeting, Williams said he was happy with the attention the three commissioners gave the issue even though Halcon eventually said it would be too expensive to replace the diesel pumps at this point.
McCrudden said the pumps are loud, and they can blow fumes at her home when the wind is blowing a certain way.
“It just comes right in the house,” she said. “It’s like riding behind a bus.”
Commissioner Paul Heltzel wrote a letter to Halcon’s local office in Hermitage, Pa., but he said he didn’t hear back from the company.
Vince Bevacqua of Prodigal Co., spokesman for Halcon Resources, said using natural-gas-powered pumps was not an option at the Brunstetter-Road site.
“Every operator uses diesel for hydraulic fracturing,” Bevacqua said. “There’s no way to get gas out to the well sites.”
Heltzel said commissioners received no complaints about the first well Halcon drilled, on Hayes-Orangeville Road in Hartford Township, perhaps because it’s in a rural area.
But with more than 300 homes and about 800 people in the mobile home park nearby, it’s more problematic, he said.
This is the first time he’s tried to contact one of the oil and gas companies regarding nuisance issues, Heltzel said, so he’s hopeful the commissioners can establish a relationship with Halcon that will enable them to address issues more efficiently in the future.
Williams, who expressed concern to the commissioners three weeks ago about the lack of an evacuation plan for the mobile-home park in the event of an accident, said he’s learned the Weathersfield Township Fire Department is well prepared.
Members of the mobile-home park and the fire department have taken an inventory of the park’s residents to identify those who have special medical needs that would have to be addressed in an evacuation, Williams said.
“If there’s an emergency, at least we’ll be prepared,” McCrudden agreed.
Meanwhile, McCrudden and others also found it bothersome that Halcon trucks accidentally had found their way into the mobile-home park. Halcon put up a sign, and that apparently fixed the problem, Bevacqua said.