Check the Arkansas Reporter from this week's edition of the Times for a story about one little-known aspect of the drilling process. Someone has to fill up the trucks with the water and sand and other chemicals before they're sent out to frac the wells. A Conway couple, Mark and Renell Cothren, lives near one such facility in Conway called Frac Tech. They are subject to sporadic, intrusive noise coming from the facility that is very disruptive to their lives.
The best way I know to describe it is it sounds as if someone parked a lawnmower on your front lawn and left it running. That's what they have to deal with constantly. Congressional research reports have shown that noise at this level is considered by most people to be disruptive and can impair one's quality of life. Frac Tech representatives say that the level of noise documented in the videos is inconsistent with noise produced at Frac Tech. Dr. Arline Bronzaft, an expert on noise who has served as a noise consultant for the last four mayors of New York City, says it doesn't matter how loud the noise is. If it's disrupting someone's life, it's unhealthy.
Frac Tech has expressed interest in meeting with the Cothrens to resolve the issue. “We have talked to Frac Tech several times and they have never even hinted that they cared or would try to do anything to remedy or reduce the noise,” Mark says. “I have no reason to think that they have suddenly had a change of heart.”
Right now the Cothrens are considering hiring a lawyer, a move they initially saw as their last resort. They say they're not after any money, just a resolution — and some peace and quiet.
Here's a small taste of what Mark Cothren has recorded from his front porch.