Pennsylvania farmers blame fracking for illness, rashes

Farmers in both New York and Pennsylvania remain strongly divided on the issue of hydrofracking, a controversial process of drilling for natural gas.

Carol French is a dairy farmer in Ulster, Pennsylvania, part of Bradford County about two hours south of Syracuse. She has been very vocal about the hydrofracking controversy.

Chesapeake Energy began drilling the first of nine hydrofracking wells around Carol's property in December 2010. Carol says she noticed a change in her water in March 2011, and within months, she and her daughter broke out in rashes.

Carol is convinced her water is contaminated by the fracking. "We ended up experiencing rashes on our bodies, and I still have rashes," Carol said in an exclusive interview. "Not as bad [now] because I only shower in my water. I don't drink my water, nor do I drink the milk we produce."

Carol says her water now gels like Jell-o and sometimes contains sand - and it's what they fear is causing so many problems. Her daughter suffered much worse than just a rash, becoming sick to the point of hospitalization.

"Her spleen and her liver and her right ovary were very enlarged," Carol explained. "They treated her for a urinary tract infection. And four days later, they called and said, 'We don't know what's wrong with her. She does not have a urinary tract infection.' And just like the rashes, they don't know what's wrong."

Carol's daughter only found relief by living out of state. After moving to Tennessee, her condition drastically improved.

Not all farmers, however, see hydrofracking as a bad thing. Woodhull, New York organic dairy farmer Neil Vitale sees hydrofracking as a promising economic opportunity for our country.

"This is such a bonus to our economy," Neil said. "It's the only thing that might save our economy from going over this cliff we keep hearing about."

Back in Pennsylvania, French and neighboring farmer Carolyn Knapp are not happy. Carolyn's husband suffers from the same rash as Carol. She brought his symptoms to a doctor.

â??When I asked him â??Could this possibly be the water that's doing this?â?? He didn't deny it,â?? said French. She thinks doctors are preparing for even more problems.

â??They're putting an increased amount into the medical care around here that we haven't seen before. It's an enormous amount of money, specialty areas, cancer. And I believe that they know there's going to be an increase, or that they're seeing an increase alreadyâ?? said Knapp.

The culprit? They say it's all in the water.

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