Gas Drilling Under Cemeteries Raises Moral Questions

Deep inside Ohio’s industrial town is the Lowellville Cemetery, the final resting place for many residents. But now, relatives of the thousands buried at the cemetery are worried as the place is becoming a lucrative hot spot for underground deposits of natural gas.

Along with cemeteries, playgrounds, parks, churches, and residential backyards in the United States are targeted by gas companies as potential reserves for drilling natural gas using the controversial technique called hydraulic fracturing/fracking.

The fracking process, which involves injecting sand, water and chemicals deep underground at high pressure to extract natural gas from the rock, has been criticized many times since it puts the resident’s health and environment at risk.

Gas companies and cemetery owners who lease the ground rights for drilling say fracking will not damage graves as the drilling occurs at around 7,000 – 8,000 feet below ground. Moreover, the wells are drilled a mile away from the place, which they say would not affect the cemetery atmosphere.

Officials from companies such as Chesapeake Energy said they had received no complaints from relatives about the distress caused to the dead ones. The graves are treated with respect and sensitivity they deserve.

However, environmentalists, lawyers and antifracking activists say that though there is nothing illegal about drilling under cemeteries, it still does raise moral issues looking at the emotional aspect involved. Many people will not like the grave of their dear one being disturbed.

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