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RON GULLA

 

RON GULLA repeated as 'Marcellus Man of the Year' in 2011 for his selfless dedication to others on important drilling issues.

The 2nd horizontal Marcellus Shale well was drilled on Ron's farm. After seeing the devastation of high volume, slick water fracking with his own eyes, Ron began to educate others. He continues to assist concerned individuals across the U.S.

Ron went from being a 'lone voice in the wilderness' to a dedicated, caring individual who has become a driving force on shale gas issues.
Congratulations Ron!

 
 
 

Ron Gulla's Farm near Hickory

While the first Marcellus Shale gas well drilled was the Renz Well near Westland, the second horizontal Marcellus Shale well was drilled on Ron Gulla's farm.

 
 
Ron Gulla describes industry tactics
used to drill the Marcellus Shale
 
 
 
Letter Ron Gulla wrote in July 2009
 
     I, Ron Gulla, 29 Gulla Lane, Hickory, Pennsylvania, an individual with six years past work experience in the oil and gas industry, thought I understood the business; but I was wrong and therefore deceived along with everyone else.  When landowners and I signed our leases in 2002, no one knew of any exemptions (ex. exempt from Safe Drinking Water Act). When the exemptions went into place in 2005 property owners with leases should have been informed.  If I had known, I would never have signed a lease.  The leases should have been rewritten or even voided. 

     All deceit began with the leases. Bill Capouillez, Consultant for Geological Assessment Leasing wrote and gathered the leases and made money as the "middle man."  This was a conflict of interest as he works for the PA Game Commission and is privy to information.  He also promoted himself as a consultant for the people but whenever I or anyone else called upon him in this capacity he didn't return calls or when he did he didn't accomplish anything.  No one was impressed with him or his efforts.

     Mt. Pleasant Township saw the beginning of horizontal drilling (Marcellus Shale) in 2005.  We (landowners) were never informed of this form of drilling, until we saw it happening all around us.  No one was made aware of this at the time of lease signing. 

     I witnessed so many issues that I was unfamiliar with, even with my background experience ( ex. storm water control: they turned the 2.5 acre pond on my property into their sediment pond).  Whenever I questioned these issues and practices, Range Resources and DEP personnel were extremely rude and unaccommodating.   Range Resources operates on intimidation.  They have intimidated everyone and have taken advantage of this rural area.  I thought the DEP was going to help. 

     The following are issues and experiences on my property and how they were handled by the DEP:

February, 2006

I met Sherman Richardson (SR) of the DEP on my farm.  (SR) was doing his inspection from his vehicle.  While standing in mud I told him of the problems, past and current:

Equipment operators, service rig hands, and others expelled feces on my property numerous times.  At one point I was cleaning up garbage left behind by Universal crew people.  8 ft away from my garage building I picked up paper that I discovered had fecal matter after it got on my hands.  Other property owners complain of the same. 

Silt run off, lack of silt fences on Gulla #1 and #3, and the existing silt fences were flattened down.

Mill slag dumped on the property.

Location roads were not seeded, limed and fertilized.

Lack of soil and erosion plan in place.

Water and mud was running from the location of Gulla #3, down the location road, down the stream and directly into the pond.  The silt was very deep, approximately 20 inches deep on the location road. I said that the fish in the

Pond would die due to the extreme soil run off and pollution coming from drilling location # 3. (SR) made no comment to this.

Water ran down to the house by way of location road off Gulla #1.  The asphalt driveway is now washed out and well water muddy when it rained.                   

(SR) agreed that the location road was a real mess and difficult to drive through. (SR) complained to me that he was over worked and the DEP was under staffed. (SR) said he would look into these problems, yet the results and his efforts were appalling.

July, 2006

All the vegetation in the 2.5 acre pond died. Even the cattails turned yellow and died.  While fishing, a friend and his daughter noticed the devastation. I observed that the color of the pond water wasn’t right. The pond water turned dark and black.  Then the bottom of the stream, that comes from the pond overflow, looked like black velvet. It covered the whole bottom of the stream. I showed this to DEP and Range Resources personnel.  No one had any answers for me.

Walked and tracked water influence, as far as the golf course, to look for causes.

On location site Gulla #3 and #6 I saw blackish water coming from the toe of the locations.  The water was running directly into the pond.  The water in the flow pits on #6 was leaking and the flow pits remained full for several weeks before they were pumped out.  Called a Range Resources personnel to ask what they did to the pond and asked if they tested the pond water.  The response was "what are we going to compare it to." He told me then that they didn't do a pre-drilling water test of the pond.  A water test should have been done as a baseline since the pond is approximately 300 yd. from a well site.  He did admit that he thought the liner leaked

The locations for #3 and #6 were never keyed in either. I told (SR) about all of these issues when he returned to work, but again to no avail. When the pond became contaminated I called the DEP.  Mark Keil was Richardson’s replacement while (SR) was recovering from a heart attack.  I walked around the pond with Mark Keil and told him how disgusted I was about my property being destroyed and not getting any relief.  I met with (MK) several times on the farm after the pond incident.  He told me he couldn’t determine where the contamination was coming from.  He did tell me that my farm “was a text book case of what not to do.”  He said that he had an album full of photos of my farm of which the DEP reviews in their meetings.  Mark also said that my name has been brought up numerous times during DEP meetings.  He agreed with me that the roads and locations were poorly constructed.  Every time it rained locations # 3 and #6 slid down the hill and into the field causing extreme erosion. The poor construction of these locations also caused a circle failure in the field, which still stands to this day.  I showed (MK) where acid from Universal Frac trucks spilled all around the property.

September 2006

Pond water sampled by (SR) DEP

Jan 2007

Received letter by mail from (SR) which states that the pond contamination did not result from drilling practices. 

May 2007

There was a fish kill in the pond from all the silt and contamination.  Up to this point I had gone to Mt. Pleasant Twp Supervisors and the local agriculture extension office to complain.  Everywhere I went I was told the same thing: “call the DEP.”

July 2007

Spoke with (SR).  I was on Gulla #9 taking pictures of the mess after Patterson drilling moved out their rig. (SR) happened to drive onto the location.  I spoke to him about the letter I had received regarding the pond.  (SR) typed the letter and it stated that the pond contamination wasn’t the result of the drilling practice.  I felt that I needed to get to the bottom of this situation and I told him that I wasn’t going to be insulted or lied to anymore. (SR) tested the water but wouldn’t test the mud at the bottom of the pond. I told (SR) that whatever had contaminated the pond would be at the bottom. (SR) said that he was not authorized to get a mud sample. (SR) seemed very nervous and said that the letter was written under the direction of his boss.  After I told (SR) that I want a meeting with his boss, he said he would organize such a meeting.  This meeting never occurred.  This was the last time I spoke to (SR).

August 2007

While Gulla #9 was being frac’d there were approx. 15 frac tanks parked alongside the stream.  They had been backed in off the driveway. One day my mother and I noticed fluid coming out of a pipe as we drove up the driveway in the vehicle.  Someone had unscrewed the plug at the end of the flow pipe on a tank.  What my mother and I witnessed was the back flow from Gulla #9 running out of the tank and directly onto the soil and into the stream.  I guess this is where the exemption of the Clean Water Act comes into play. I called (SR) on his cell phone number and left a message.  I called again for 2 days and left messages with no return call.  I found out later that he had died, but I was unaware at this time.  I called (MK) on his cell phone but with no response. Found out later that his phone had been stolen and that it took 8 weeks for him to get a new phone. 

September 2007

I spoke with (MK) when he brought Richardson’s replacement, Vince Yenko out to the farm and introduced us. This is when I learned of (SR)’s death and of (MK)’s stolen cell.  When (MK) arrived with (VK), (MK) said to (VK) “wait until you see this place” and after this there is another location messed up on Gulla #5 at Alexander’s farm.  (This is where Gulla #5 spilled fluid from flow pits into a stream that flows into a neighboring property.  DEP didn’t help with this situation either).  Mark, Vince and I walked around the pond and up the location road to # 3 and 6.  (VK) said to me that these are the worst group of people he has seen in the oil and gas field.  I agreed that this was the worst nightmare I have ever experienced and that my property and family have not been respected. I have never had so many lies told by so many people. (VK) just shook his head while walking around and observing all the problems.  He saw where the pipeline crew threw garbage in pipe ditches.  I told (VK) that I couldn’t get any relief from (SR).  (VK) said that he would help me as much as he could.  At this point (VK) informed me of the background of (SR).  He said that (SR) was a convicted murderer with a nickname of “Hatchet Jack.”

I called (VK) several times following this meeting due to continuing problems on the property.  (VK) said that there were so many problems created by Range Resources contractors that he had a difficulty time keeping up with all the phone calls.  All the problems on my property are still existing to this day.  The pond vegetation has never grown back since it was contaminated. Garbage was buried on location #6,  by a contractor.  Why should my farm be treated like a landfill? Also, Range Resources pumped contaminated water from my pond to a neighboring pond for fracing purposes.  The DEP told a concerned neighbor that the water was being pumped into a plastic lined pond.  This was not true.  So many issues with no resolution.  What was going on?  My property, pond and life have been destroyed.  It's outrageous that someone can come onto your property and do all this destruction.  There have been so many instances of insult to the property and me, personally.  One includes a break-in of the garage with the removal and destruction of my equipment by a rig hand.

My wife and I are currently in litigation with Range Resources because of these lies.  We were deceived and baited with a different piece of property in Hickory, Pennsylvania.  Obtaining legal representation has been difficult and not without trials and tribulations.  When I retained Burns, White & Hickton, attorneys at law, Pittsburgh, Pa over these matters, I was treated rudely, unprofessionally, overcharged and lied to numerous times.  After my assigned attorney left the firm ( to work for an Oil and Gas Co.), I was badgered by the replacement.  I was told that I didn't stand a chance against Range Resources.  Overall, they didn't represent me as a client as they should have done.  Additionally, during a meeting I learned that White of Burns, White & Hickton, attorneys at law, was personal friends with Range's attorney, Lambert.  I am quite sure that this influenced how the firm treated me.

Once the case went to court, it was assigned to Judge Mark E. Mascara, Washington County, Pa.  I wanted this judge to be recused off my case and/or felt that he should recuse himself due to a conflict of interest.  The reason for this is that in the late 1980's Mascara was involved with my grandparents' estate, as an attorney.  During that time he came onto the property more than once with a pistol in a shoulder holster, while in my presence. 

Overall, I could never understand what was going on.  Nothing was getting resolved and I was puzzled and frustrated.  After learning of the exemptions the puzzle all came together and many questions were answered.  Questions of how I couldn't get help, relief, support from attorneys, DEP, Range Resources personnel and even judges.  Learned that Mark Keil, of the DEP, went to work directly for Range Resources.  How do you as a landowner stand a chance legally when the industry wrote the Oil and Gas Act? And yet, the burden of proof is upon the individual landowner against the powerful company. The industry is polluting our air, land and water.  I knew that one day other problems would surface and now it is beginning.  There are many issues to speak of, but the most important is that water wells are now contaminated.

Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney from Earthjustice has visited and toured the community.  She was appalled at what she saw.

The corruption and lies are out of hand.  There are many other situations other than mine.  There are other unhappy property owners who have experienced the corruption and lies and cannot get relief.  Our local township officials have been lied to by Range Resources and Atlas Energy from the very beginning.  Range Resources is "lining  pockets" every step of the way.  A local representative has received monetary contribution.  It is getting out of hand.  They throw money around to convince all that it is safe, when in truth it is not.  Evidence is around to prove it. Trying to seek legal help and representation is impossible.  No one wants to help or fight. 

We need help as soon as possible.  Our children are exposed to danger.  Their health, home, and the water they bathe in is jeopardized.  Our children, our future, our country are at risk.  Where will we be without water and air?

Ron Gulla

cc:
Administrator Lisa Jackson, EPA
Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., PA
Senator Arlen Spector, PA
Bill Early, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 3
Congresswoman Diana DeGette, CO
Congressman Maurice Hinchey, NY
Congressman Jared Polis, CO
 

 
 
McCarrell Road in foreground
 
 
  Gulla #9 (left) and Gulla #1 (right)
 
 
Acess road leading up to Gulla #1 (right)
 
 
Gulla #9
 
 
Wells #3 and #6 above the pond
 
 

Pa DEP Fine

125-22300 / Mount Pleasant / Washington County
Gulla Unit 6 / Range Resources
Incident Date: Sometime prior to 10/19/2007
Inspection Date: 10/19/2007 and 1/10/2008
Fine Date: 2009-06-09
Fine: $21,200
Group Fine: Yes (9)
Lead Permit: 125-22300 (7)
Violation: Sediment-laden water was allowed to leave the well site; a state inspector found a failure to install erosion and sedimentation control best management practices while installing a permitted pipeline across a stream near the well, causing severe stream sedimentation; also, failure to properly restore the well site within nine months of completion of drilling because the site did not have 70 percent perennial vegetative cover; in response, company asked for a six month extension to restore site but state inspector would not extend until erosion problems corrected; there were erosion and sedimentation problems along the access road as well, and a follow-up inspection 1/10/2008 found similar problems and also a sediment fence below the well site was overwhelmed with sediment.
Response: Company initially asked for a six month extension to restore the site because it was going to be reopening the site for additional drilling, but then did not seed and mulch the well pad as it said it would by 12/31/2007; by the time of another follow-up inspection 1/31/2008 company had installed all the erosion and sedimentation controls and was granted a six month extension to fully restore site as requested; company said that it had a crew that regularly had a crew check on erosion and sedimentation controls, but the state inspector might have visited the site between one of these checks when the inspector found problems with the controls along the access road; company said it would have its crew recheck controls more frequently, particularly during heavy rains and bad weather.

 

Four original Gulla wells
Four original Gulla wells
 
 

Source: Pennsylvania DEP Production Reports

Permit Issued 6/1/2005
Permit Issued 2/7/2007 Drill deeper
Permit Farm name Well No. Product Vol. Days Avg/ Day End Date
125-22212 Gulla 1 Gas 29 365 .08 6/30/10
        0 0 0 12/31/10
125-22212 Gulla 1 Oil 89 365 .24 6/30/10
        5 121 .04 12/31/10
125-22212 Gulla 1 Brine 175 -   Disposal site not listed
Note: Gulla #1 was plugged in late-2010
Well plugging notice alternate method - Issued 09/21/2010
Well Plugging Notice Intent to Plug Single Well - Issued 9/24/10
5/25/2010 Violation
8/10/2006 Violations

 

Source: Pennsylvania DEP Production Reports
Permit Issued 11/17/2005
125-22261 Gulla 3 Gas Note: Gulla #3 is not listed
on any DEP Production
Reports thru 6/30/11
125-22261 Gulla 3 Oil
125-22261 Gulla 3 Brine
Note: 2nd horizontal Marcellus Shale well drilled
1/10/2008 Violations
10/19/2007 Violation
8/10/2006 Violation

 

Source: Pennsylvania DEP Production Reports

Farm Name

Well No.

Product

Vol.

Days

Avg/ Day

End Date

GULLA 3 Gas Not listed? - - 6/30/11
      18,519 153 121 12/31/11
      20,386 178 115 6/30/12
      6,518 63 103 12/31/12
      22,869 166 138 6/30/13
GULLA 3 Oil Not listed? - - 6/30/11
      242 153 1.58 12/31/11
      268 178 1.51 6/30/12
    Cond. 67 63 1.06 12/31/12
      319 166 1.92 6/30/13
GULLA 6 Gas 24,282 365 67 6/30/10
      11,644 178 65 12/31/10
      10,627 181 59 6/30/11
      10,406 184 57 12/31/11
      8,790 182 48 6/30/12
      2,692 61 44 12/31/12
      9,158 123 74 6/30/13
GULLA 6 Oil 167 365 .5 6/30/10
      30 178 .2 12/31/10
      58 181 .3 6/30/11
      0 0 0 12/31/11
    Cond. 99 182 .54 6/30/12
      13 61 .21 12/31/12
      42 123 .34 6/30/13
 GULLA 6 Brine 209 - - Disposal site not listed
Permit #125-22300     Issued 2/21/2006     GPS: 40.27244 -80.3132
1/10/2008 Violations      
10/19/2007 Violation
GULLA 9 Gas 176,544 365 484 6/30/10
      76,250 182 419 12/31/10
      76,551 181 423 6/30/11
      74,029 184 402 12/31/11
      66,907 178 376 6/30/12
      53,532 113 474 12/31/12
      63,172 172 367 6/30/13
GULLA 9 Oil 2,869 365 8 6/30/10
      985 182 5 12/31/10
      994 181 5 6/30/11
      788 184 4 12/31/11
    Cond. 775 178 4 6/30/12
      543 113 4.8 12/31/12
      752 172 4.4 6/30/13
GULLA 9 Brine 867     Disposal site not listed
    Drilling 119      
    Frac fluid 357     Liquid Assets Disposal
Permit #125-22639   Issued 3/21/2007
GPS: 40.27241 -80.3086

 

Note: Two other Gulla wells listed were not situated
on Ron Gulla's farm: Gulla 5 & Gulla 10H
 
 

Ron Gulla tells his story on YouTube:

Fracking: Ron Gulla 3

Downsides to gas drilling

Ron talks at his farm

Ron discusses his pond

Exempt from Everything

Pond and farm ruined

Ron talks with his neighbor

Ron Gulla in Midway - 1

Ron Gulla in Midway - 2

Pennsylvania farmers speak out on gas drilling

 
 

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