WALNUT COVE, N.C. -- Test drilling for shale gas in Walnut Cove has begun; four days earlier than expected.
State officials say the company doing the drilling – Patterson Exploration Services – was scheduled to begin core drilling on Friday, June 12. However, they were able to start earlier because their drilling in the Cumberland-Marlboro took less time than originally expected.
“Keep the local people in the dark and proceed at whatever pace the government entities want,” said Mary Kerley, a founding member of No Fracking Stokes. “I wasn’t surprised, I in fact predicted this.”
The site is down a town easement located off Crestview Drive.
“I know this area. Went through here every day of my life all through school and still come down here some,” said Leslie Bray-Brewer, pastor of Times of Refreshing Ministries in Walnut Cove. “But I didn’t even know where it was, I went to another site thinking it was there.”
The crew will be drilling about 1,750 feet into the ground looking for the shale gas in an attempt to determine if it is worth hydro-fracturing, or fracking, in the area.
“It is gut-wrenching to know that it has actually happened,” Kerley said.
“Well obviously greed is the driving force. If they can find the resources here, somebody’s going to make a lot of money,” Bray-Brewer said. “It’s not going to be us.”
Bray-Brewer said that local organizations had events planned to speak out against the test drilling, as well as prayer meetings ahead of the start of the drilling.
“Our prayer meeting is still going to take place,” Bray-Brewer said. “We’re just rushing it the way they are.”
Major concerns, outside of the possibility of more drilling sites in the county, begin with the questions of what lies below the surface. Some residents fear that fracking could have negative effects on the environment. Others worry that is something were to go wrong, it could have devastating effects on the nearby Duke Power steam station which is about 3-4 miles away from the test site.
“Messing with Mother Nature is never a good thing and particularly in this area with the proximity to the coal ash dam,” Kerley said.
State officials expect the crews to be on site for ten days. Some residents say the crews told them they would be there for a week.