Displaced families at center of fracking protests

Displaced families at center of fracking protests by Tara Zrinski, July 12, 2012, Times on Line
As a result of the protest, Aqua America, which had purchased the mobile home park along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania’s Lycoming County, allowed six families to remain an additional month while they made arrangements to move. ”We felt for the people, so we did what we thought was the right thing to ease the transition while they were moving out,” said Donna Alston, communications manager for Aqua America, which is converting the 12-acre trailer park into a water shipment facility to supply water for the controversial natural gas drilling procedure called fracking.

Residents had received a letter of immediate termination of their leases from Leonard on Feb. 23, the day Leonard sold the land to Aqua America. They were given incentives of $2,500 to move by June 1. Most did, but they were replaced by protesters from across the country, who camped out at the park until a settlement was reached with the other half-dozen families. “The remaining residents engaged North Penn Legal Services, and we reached an amicable solution, the details of which cannot be disclosed,” Alston said Monday. … A former resident who left before June 1 said the six families received $12,500 each in their settlements, significantly more than the $2,500 incentive provided to the 32 other families that left prior to the activists’ 12-day occupation of Riverdale. Considering the cost of moving a trailer is about $8,000 to $12,000, this larger amount would cover the expense of moving a home, time off from work and rental fees, said the resident, who did not want to be identified. But Wendy Lynne Lee, a professor at Bloomsburg University who participated in the protest, said the six families could fare worse in the long run. Those families might have been exposed to asbestos while the trailer park was demolished around them. “If the agreement the residents are being pressured to sign includes a nondisclosure clause that stipulates the residents can never sue … on any grounds, then the residents could not sue on the grounds they were exposed to asbestos,” said Lee.

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