Well Pad Slip Closes Road, Hampers Communication

Wetzel Chronicle
7 March 2012
By Miranda Stokes, Staff Writer

The Ries family of St. Joseph's Settlement say they have been virtually trapped in their home since Thursday morning after a well pad fell onto their driveway, cutting their communication lines as well as their pathway to and from their residence.

Henry and Cecilia Ries said they are very frustrated they can't get out of their residence for necessary trips to town including work. In addition to the debris blocking the driveway, the slip has also taken out their phone and internet lines.

"We've been stuck here," said Henry, who noted the only way they can get around is with a buggy-style all-terrain vehicle. However, in these temperatures, they've resisted using such transportation aside from taking their son to the bus stop. To make matters worse, over the weekend the four wheeler was damaged in a roll-over.

Furthermore, the family is concerned with the fact that emergency vehicles, other than helicopters, are not able to reach them if needed.

The Rieses have been in contact with Chesapeake Energy's Senior Field Representative Mike Morgan, who has yet to tell them definitively when the slip will be repaired. Cecilia added there was a small slip about a month ago and Chesapeake has known the Barnett Well Pad has been slipping. In fact, the Rieses say Morgan told them that particular site has been slipping 15 feet every 10 minutes for some time.

With losing income and incurring repairs to their four wheeler, the Rieses have requested compensation for lost wages and for damages to their buggy. However, Chesapeake told them they will not compensate for such losses.

Cecilia, who works as an EMT with Wetzel County EMS, says she is very concerned about not being able to do her job. "I'm the only EMT (at the New Martinsville station) during the day. That's a lot of responsibility." Similarly, Henry is losing $289 a day not being able to go to his job as a CSX conductor. Furthermore, Henry says his job is at stake at this point with the number of absences he's unavoidably incurred. "This is not my fault. I'm not playing hooky here," Henry declares. "It's Chesapeake's fault for not being compassionate to us. I want compensated. They (Chesapeake) don't care. We're just a bunch of rednecks to them."

Stacey Brodak, senior director of corporate development with Chesapeake Energy stated on the matter: "We are working diligently to clear debris and have been in near constant communication with the family to assist with their needs. Our work has been restricted to daylight hours at the landowner's request. Temporary road access and phone service were restored the same day as the event. Our plans call for permanent access to be restored by the end of the week. We will continue to work with the Ries family on a resolution."