When we began work on the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project several years ago, unconventional gas exploration— now commonly, if somewhat inaccurately, referred to as “fracking”—was neither well known nor understood in the region. As time has passed, and the supposed advantages and disadvantages of drilling for natural gas have been exposed more widely for public scrutiny, people today are much more likely to have an opinion, one way or another, about “fracking.”

We wanted to do a couple of things with this second round of the project.

First, to return to stories and narratives that we had been following in the first round, to see how—if at all—things had changed. To that end, we have returned to some familiar places and people in Pennsylvania to follow up on what we had found there several years ago. And second, to expand our purview, to take in stories of gas exploration that have been developing outside of our original geographic focus, where “fracking” was newly arrived.

In addition, we have teamed up with photographer and filmmaker Joe Seamans, and the mapping experts FracTracker Alliance, to create dynamic and interactive presentations that help contextualize the work.

The Marcellus Shale Documentary Project: An Expanded View is on view at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts through July 31st.

Organized by The Documentary Works, the exhibition features new photography and video works by Noah Addis, Nina Berman, Brian CohenScott Goldsmith, Lynn Johnson, Martha Rial, and Joe Seamans, and graphics by FracTracker Alliance.  The artists will present talks this Thursday night at 6 p.m. at PCA.

Brian Cohen photo

Brian Cohen photo

Janet Muffet stands on Jan Pierce’s property, adjacent to the Muffet farm. Formerly a mix of woods and meadows that was used for farming and as riding trails, this land was cleared in 2015 in preparation for “fracking.” There has been no further activity, and none of the neighbors has been able to make contact with the gas company to learn when, if at all, they will return. The assumption is that the project was put on hold when the price of gas fell in 2016.

lynn johnson pair 8

Lynn Johnson photos.

By machine or by hand, by chemical or forge—this is the fundamental question in Amish country—can these two ways of life co-exist? How much industry is too much?

Longtime resident Patricia Lyons looks at parked LPG railcars parked in Rook railyard from her front yard in Greentree, PA.

Longtime resident Patricia Lyons looks at parked LPG railcars in Rook Rail Yard from her front yard in Greentree, PA. Martha Rial photo.

Rook Station opened in 1904 and in recent years only saw a few trains a week until the natural gas boom transformed the rail yard. Rook Rail Yard was originally part of the Wabash Pittsburgh Terminal Railway and is now owned by Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

Parked tanker cars carrying liquified petroleum gas on the Lake Erie and Wheeling Pittsburgh train trestle over 376 west in Carnegie, PA.

Parked tanker cars carrying liquified petroleum gas on the Lake Erie and Wheeling Pittsburgh train trestle over 376 west in Carnegie, PA. Martha Rial photo.

Tanker cars carrying liquefied petroleum gas sit on the trestle over Interstate 376 west waiting to enter the Rook Rail. Construction on the trestle over the Whiskey Run viaduct was completed in 1904.

Zick Compressor station, photographed with an FLIR and a normal digital camera

Zick Compressor station, photographed with an FLIR and a normal digital camera. Photo by Nina Berman.

Hydrocarbons from the Zick Compressor station, photographed with an FLIR and a normal digital camera, Kingsley, PA, 2015, showing emissions invisible to the naked eye.

Rebecca Roter -- Brooklyn, PA moving out because of the chemical contamination of her well water

Rebecca Roter of Brooklyn, PA moving out because of the chemical contamination of her well water. Photo by Nina Berman.

 

 

 

 

View of the FirstEnergy R.E. Burger power plant in Shadyside, Ohio on 01/31/2016. The plant's coal-fired boilers were taken off line in 2011 and the facility was completely closed in 2015. The site is being considered for a new ethane cracker plant. The processing plant would take ethane from the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations and convert it into ethylene, which is used in the petrochemical industry. Wells are being drilled across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to extract gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale, rock formations that extends throughout much of the Appalachian Basin. Gas companies are using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", which involves pumping fluid into wells at high pressure in order to fracture the rock formation and release the gas. Noah Addis/Marcellus Shale Documentary Project

View of the FirstEnergy R.E. Burger power plant in Shadyside, Ohio on January 31, 2016. Noah Addis photo.

The plant’s coal-fired boilers were taken off line in 2011 and the facility was completely closed in 2015. The site is being considered for a new ethane cracker plant. The processing plant would take ethane from the Utica and Marcellus Shale formations and convert it into ethylene, which is used in the petrochemical industry.

Wells are being drilled across the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to extract gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale, rock formations that extend throughout much of the Appalachian Basin. Gas companies are using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which involves pumping fluid into wells at high pressure in order to fracture the rock formation and release the gas.

creek runoff on left from landfill in Rostraver full of frack waste and radioactive material.

Creek runoff on left from landfill in Rostraver full of frack waste and radioactive material. The landfill has been used for frack waste. Scott Goldsmith photo.

 

"Funeral for water" These people gathered for a New Orleans style funeral for water in Younstown Ohio. Youngstown water has been contaminated from drilling, trucking, dumping and spilling.

“Funeral for water”
These people gathered for a New Orleans style funeral for water in Younstown, Ohio. Youngstown water has been contaminated from drilling, trucking, dumping and spilling. Scott Goldsmith photo.