US gag order bars kids' fracking talk

2013-08-06 13:50
Fracking rig. (AP file)

Fracking rig. (AP file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Under an oil company settlement reached in the US state of Pennsylvania, two children, aged 7 and 10, were told that any talk of fracking is a no-no.

Under the 2011 settlement, unsealed last week, plaintiffs Chris and Stephanie Hallowich were explicitly told that an attendant lifetime gag order - under which they were never to discuss the Marcellus shale basin or fracking - also applied to their children.

The Marcellus formation is a vast basin of shale containing untapped natural gas resources in the eastern US, close to key energy markets.

However, the fracking process needed to exploit it - in which water and chemicals are blasted into the ground - has led to complaints by environmentalists and some local residents.

The couple had claimed that a shale gas drilling operation near their home had damaged their health, causing burning eyes, sore throats, headaches and earaches, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which convinced a judge to unseal documents related to the case.


In a court transcript, Stephanie Hallowich says the couple agreed to the $750 000 settlement "because we needed to get the children out of there for their health and safety".

"We know we're signing for silence forever, but how is this taking away our children's rights, being minors now?" she asks, referring to her then 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

The family's attorney, Peter Villari, appears equally baffled, saying that in his 30-year career he's never seen such an order apply to minors.

Chris Hallowich argues that the two children will be growing up in the heart of the major US fracking region, with other children whose parents work in the industry.

"We can inform them. We can tell them they cannot say this, they cannot say that, but if on the playground -."

James Swetz, the lawyer for Range Resources Corporation, one of the two defendants, insists it is part of the deal.

"I guess our position is that it does apply to the whole family. We would certainly enforce it," he said.

However, a Range Resources spokesperson interviewed by the Post-Gazette said the company did not agree with its attorney's comments.

"We don't believe the settlement applies to children," the spokesperson told the newspaper.

Villari told the Post-Gazette he was not aware the children had been released from the agreement.

"I'd appreciate it if they'd put that in writing," he said. "It would be very nice to do that."

Read more on:    us  |  fracking

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

  • Wednesday Bellville - 09:57 AM
    Road name: N1 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Durban Road exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 09:24 AM
    Road name: Koeberg Road Southbound
    DELAYS through Brooklyn towards the N1 Highway
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 2 White 16GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Two cameras for FaceTime and HD video recording. The dual-core...

From R5727.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.