As part of their family's settlement with gas driller Range Resources Corporation, two children, ages 7 and 10, in Mount Pleasant, Pa., are legally forbidden from speaking about fracking for the rest of their lives.
The gag order is part of a $750,000 settlement which the Hallowich family agreed to after they reportedly became severely ill from water and air contaminated by shale-gas hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" at nearby site. Parents Chris and Stephanie Hallowich claimed their family was suffering from headaches, earaches, burning eyes and sore throats after their water and air was contaminated.
In August 2011, they reached an agreement with Range Resources, but the settlement not only gagged the adults in the household, but also their two children. The Hallowich attorney, Peter Villari, called the gag on minor children an unprecedented extension for a nondisclosure agreement. It raises the question of whether the kids will suffer long-term effects from the water and air pollution as they grow up.
Part of the agreement stated that the family’s health was not affected by the drilling operations. Villari said if the Hallowich family did not agree to that, the settlement would never have gone forward.
A representative of Range Resources said, “Clearly the Hallowichs were not in an ideal situation in terms of their lifestyle. They had an unusual amount of activity around them. We didn’t want them in that situation.”
While the representative said the settlement should not apply to the Hallowich children, the hearing transcript said the order not only applies to the minors in the family, but the company “would certainly enforce it.”
Range Resources in an independent oil and gas firm headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. The company’s net income is $67.5 million.