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Cover 03/27/2013

The sour side of life in South Texas' Eagle Ford Shale

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

An anti-fracking activist shoots infared video in Karnes County in early March

Photo: , License: N/A

Four albuterol inhalers for the Cernys, a family of three


None of the Cernys had inhalers until about a year ago. On a recent visit, Mike counted four lying around the house that he, Myra, and their teenage son regularly use.

“I mean, just sitting there looking at those, that’s fucking sad,” he told me.

“It’s now where our sinuses burn, our eyes burn so bad you have to rinse them out in the middle of the night,” Myra said. “The smell gets so heavy outside you feel like you have to vomit.” Family members will no longer visit them because of the noxious stink.

Myra and Mike left Marathon’s community meeting last December nonplussed. They’d expected a public question and answer period; there wasn’t one. They expected Marathon reps to take their concerns seriously; Marathon workers instead argued whether the nearby storage sites were even theirs.

A Marathon worker asked the Cernys whether they were getting their royalties. At one point the Cernys got one payment of about $1,700. This year, those royalty payments dipped down to a couple hundred dollars. The Cernys are told they might soon receive as much as $7,000.

“Honestly, I could give a flip about our royalties,” Myra told a Marathon worker. “We want our health back. We want our air back.”

Before leaving, Myra pulled out a stack of handouts on fracking emisions and their potential health impact. “Could you please get her to go outside to pass out those things?” a visibly uncomfortable Marathon worker asked Mike.

He responded, “Shit, you try.”

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