Explosions, fires, fouled water: Welcome to hydrofracking hell

DIMOCK TOWNSHIP, Penn. — It started with a bang.

Here, amid the postcard-perfect hills and hollows of the Allegheny Mountains, Norma Fiorentino, 66, lives in a trailer. In the winter, arctic winds blow down from the north, across the frozen Great Lakes. It was out into this cold that Fiorentino stepped on New Year’s Day 2008 to visit her daughter. While she was out, the well that supplies her home with water exploded, shattering the 8-inch-thick, concrete slab that had capped it. When Fiorentino returned, she found the slab split in two on her snow-sprinkled lawn, as well as a frothy, orange liquid bubbling from her faucets. First she dialed 911, then neighbors. One by one, she discovered that her neighbors’ water, too, had become discolored and cloudy, fetid and foul tasting.

It was a mystery fit for “The X-Files.”