VALLEY GROVE, W.Va. — Becky Wieczorkowski simply wanted her first cup of coffee of the day but she never got to drink it Thursday. Before the pot finished brewing her house was destroyed around her when 7,000 gallons of drilling mud from a nearby pipeline project broke free and rushed into her basement.
“I get up walk toward my dining room and a piece of ceiling plaster fell on my head,” Becky said. “I looked up and all of a sudden my house was moving. I thought I was having an earthquake. Next thing I know my walls start splitting and I could see outside.”
After calling her mother and the fire department, Becky heard a noise in the basement and went to investigate.
“It broke the pipes in my basement and my basement filled with 7,000 gallons of drilling mud,” she said. “I looked around and all this water and mud was pushing out so fast.”
Everything in the basement was under mud which raised four steps high.
Firemen alerted her it was a fracking incident and immediately condemned the house. She knew exactly where to turn. Wieczorkowski went to a MarkWest Energy construction at the edge of her property to tell the supervisor what happened.
“He looked at it and said, ‘We definitely got a problem,'” Becky recalled. “I said, ‘Yea we got a big problem.'”
Wieczorkowski said she overheard one of the construction crew members talking about something breaking through behind her property several days earlier and it was only a matter of time until this happened. She was bothered she was never told.
MarkWest Energy is putting in a pipeline under National Road. The company said it was doing a horizontal bore under the road when the drilling fluid pushed up through the basement.
MarkWest spokesman Robert McHale told the Wheeling Intelligencer the company is trying to determine exactly what happened.
“The bottom line is we are going to take care of these people,” McHale told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Wieczorkowski and her husband were allowed to retrieve clothes from the house Friday. A professional moving company was on the site boxing up all of her belongings to be placed in storage until other living arrangements are made.
Now living in a motel for the rest of the year, Wieczorkowski’s phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from lawyers wanting to take her case. She’s willing to work out the loss directly with representatives of the company, as long as they take care of her. So far she says they’ve been agreeable to do what she wants.
“In nine years I would have had my home paid for and I’ve been paying for it for 21 years,” she said. “I don’t want to go to court over this. This can be handled outside of court. I’m just a country girl and my husband is a truck driver. We don’t want millions of dollars; we just want our house back.”