One of America’s largest producers of natural gas is facing a whirlwind of backlash after four families were forced out of their homes in Knob Fork, West Virginia, as a result of the company expanding its fracking operations in the area. Unfortunately, not much is being done to support the community. 

EQT Increases Presence In West Virginia

The story begins in 2021 when EQT expanded its fracking operations in Knob Fork – an unincorporated hamlet in Wetzel County, West Virginia. The company is leading what they describe as the ‘largest green initiative on the planet.’ 

Source: grandriver from Getty Images Signature via Canva

Their WV expansion continued in 2023 with the acquisitions of Tug Hill and XcL Midstream – which they purchased for $5.2 billion in cash and stock. The damage was already done by then, but it has only gotten worse ever since.

Knob Fork Families Plead For Help

By August 2021, as health problems started to worsen, families started contacting environmental regulators for help, but their efforts were largely unnoticed and unregarded. 

Source: grandriver from Getty Images Signature via Canva

One year later, families started to flee their homes in search of a better, healthier life – despite some families owning those homes for decades. It wasn’t an easy decision, but one they had to make in an effort to survive. 

Meet The Tennant Family – One Of The Victims

Abby and Scott Tennant are going viral for their well-documented account of how fracking has negatively impacted their health and well-being. Abby has been journaling daily for several years, and a lot of their health problems are linked to EQT’s presence. 

Source: PublicSource/Quinn Glabicki

The Tennants – who are parents to three daughters – have lived in their home for more than 30 years. Their health problems have gotten so bad over the past couple of years that they’ve had to make some very tough decisions.

Tennants Flee Their Home 50 Times In 7 Months

According to Abby Tennant’s journal, the family fled their home more than 50 times over a seven-month period between January and July 2022. One of their worst experiences came on July 7, 2022, when they spent the night at a neighbor’s cabin. 

Source: PublicSource/Quinn Glabicki

Abby woke up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in her chest and an urge to vomit. A burnt chemical scent filtered through their home – even leaving a metallic taste in their mouth. In an effort to find relief, they hurried to their car and drove away. 

Tennants Live Near Compressor Station

One primary reason the Tennants are experiencing these health problems is that they live next to one of EQT’s four compression stations in West Virginia – equipped with six 1,775-horsepower engines that pressurize the fracked gasses from nearby wells. 

Source: PublicSource/Quinn Glabicki

They live near the Sizemore Pad – a nine-bore well pad at the bottom of the hollow, according to Public Source. “Hidden behind a bend, four 50,000-gallon open-top tanks hold the briney, toxic liquids left over from shale gas extraction,” they wrote in their report.

What Health Problems Are They Experiencing? 

I think a better question is, what health problems weren’t the Tennants experiencing? Nausea, vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain, bright red rashes, muscle twitching, dizziness, sharp pains, and changes to their sleeping patterns.

Source: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels via Canva

“More than two decades since the rapid expansion of unconventional natural gas extraction, researchers are now beginning to grasp the scope and extent of associated health effects and related costs,” writes the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Tennants Finally Decide To Move In February

In February, less than one year after the EQT’s latest expansion, the Tennants decided they had enough. Despite living in their home for more than three decades, they couldn’t justify living in a home that was slowly killing them.

Source: shotbydave from Getty Images Signature via Canva

“Our home is no longer a home. It is a place of sickness, confusion and sadness,” Abby wrote in her journal. Her husband, Scott, added that it was their ‘forever home’ with plenty of memories. I built that driveway with my own hands,” he said.

14-Year-Old Daughter Has Health Issues Too

Even now that the family has moved to Paden City – roughly 30 miles west of Knob Fork – their health problems continue to impact their way of life. For example, the family’s 14-year-old daughter, Piper, is being forced to take a break from online school.

Source: dimaberlinphotos via Canva

“It wasn’t like this before,” Abby said of her daughter. “She was a healthy little girl running around outside, swinging in her swing.”

Family Had To Do Away With Personal Belongings

Not only were the Tennants forced out of their home, but they couldn’t even bring a lot of their personal belongings with them because they had been contaminated over the past few years.

Source: sturti from Getty Images Signature via Canva

“Piper’s dolls rested outside the house in Paden City in hopes they decontaminate. The Tennants got rid of most soft possessions that may retain chemicals,” Public Source reported.

EQT Plans To Return To Knob Fork In 2025

Despite their continued efforts to raise awareness, not much has been done to solve the health crisis in Knob Fork. In fact, EQT already has plans of returning to the small town in 2025 to continue their fracking operations.

Source: grandriver from Getty Images Signature via Canva

Abby Tennant described the town as ‘ground zero of it all,’ and there’s no better way to describe it. The EQT emissions are wreaking havoc on the community of just over 1,000 people. 

Why Are EQT’s Emissions So Harmful? 

“According to WVDEP records, EQT’s emissions contain, among other chemicals, benzene and toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, hexane and formaldehyde — all classified as volatile organic compounds [VOCs],” Public Source reported. 

Source: Shutterstock

Inhaling VOCs has been linked to a variety of health problems – including dizziness, headaches, tremors, anxiety, confusion, nerve damage, muscle fatigue, and death (in more severe cases).

Fracking Also Damages The Environment

Fracking isn’t just damaging the health of residents – it also poses a risk to the environment. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, it can contaminate groundwater and surface water, create air pollution, threaten wildlife, and increase the risk of an earthquake.

Source: grandriver from Getty Images Signature via Canva

Not only that, but research indicates that oil and gas efforts in the United States are leaking 60% more methane than once thought. Methane is known to have 80 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after its produced.

EPA Investigation Finds Critical Leaks

In March 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completed an inspection as part of its ongoing investigation in the area. Unfortunately, the report didn’t have positive results – and showed just how bad the situation is. 

Source: Skyhobo from Getty Images Signature via Canva

In fact, they ended up finding several leaks, as well as ‘unexpected hydrocarbon emissions from EQT’s pollution control devices in the hollow.’ These issues are only exacerbating the problem for Knob Fork residents.