Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One victim's story of how Oil and Gas can change a life

This story was sent to us by Jaime Chimner from Cheboygan, Michigan. She blogs at
This is how the Oil and Gas Industry changed her life forever.

When I heard of a Victim's network if I could have I would have jumped with glee. I am a victim of the oil and gas industry, mainly the chemical hydrogen sulfide or H2S or the rotten egg smell.

Here's my story and I hope that it will help someone else. I live in Upper Northern Michigan, or Cheboygan. I am now 52 years old and a mother. In 2004 our little town of Lewiston (where I had lived for 22 years) was the home of 3 150,00 barrel crude oil or liquefied natural gas tanks (owned by MarkWest) and with a it being pumped into the Enbridge pipeline after being transported and offloaded by trucks owned by Liquid Transport (since bought out). They hauled in loads of sour crude daily and one day (of many) there was an alleged illegal release of hydrogen sulfide. Lewiston was the victim even though people didn't realize it. Lewiston was downwind almost every day and we lived about 1/4 mile straight downwind from the facility. I became ill that day thus starting a nightmare I may live until I die.

I couldn't eat, stand, think, only my right leg was swollen. My well controlled asthma had suddenly taken a turn for the worse and still fight off bronchitis and pneumonia as often as twice a month. My immune system was almost wiped out. I couldn't urinate unless I pressed on my belly to see if I had to. My body was shutting down and after a few months of this my doctors (I have letters which the EPA also has) said I had to leave Lewiston and preferably the State or I would die. My husband was overwhelmed as he was affected, it changed his personality and his asthma became worse. My son suddenly developed atrial fibrillation and had to stop his heart twice. My daughter now has a skin rash that flares up. Neither children recognize the correlation but I do. I have seen too much not to.We (there was 4 of us) did tons of research and brought the Mark West Company out from Denver because they were worried what we had found. Nothing at that time but we had bought a share of stock from each of the 3 companies at that certain facility and contacted their main shareholders. We eventually found, on a holiday weekend, that they were trying to replace a tank and fortunately a DEQ officer happened to be around and found that they were indeed bringing loads of 75,000 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide when they were only allowed to bring in loads of 4 ppm.

Lewiston is now an oil and gas town with many sick people. We couldn't find an attorney anywhere in the country to take our case thus losing our statue of limitations. I lost everything,( eventually my husband and family) sold my house and just kept moving upwind from the wells, 100's of them going in on the Niagarian reef and Antrim shale that Lewiston sat on top of. My main point is that this exposure has made me chemically hypersensitive. The local paper mill, which we are rarely downwind from, caught fire yesterday. I am now married to a wonderful man who tries to deal with all my health issues. He stepped out of house yesterday, smelled the toxins, grabbed my mask and told me to put it on. It was too late though, it comes through the walls. I couldn't move I was in such pain and all my joints swelled, headache, worsening of asthma and just wanted to die.

Very few can understand what the gas and oil industry is doing to people. I fought them for 4 years, even after moving away, but now I educate. Some days I can hardly move, not knowing what chemical came my way, but go on. I have to carry a nebulizer with me wherever I go, a special filtering mask and pray I have a good day. There's my story with so much more to tell but I hope that this helps someone and you use it. I have become permanently disabled and had a "stroke" also from this and know the feeling of hopelessness.

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