Dr. Yuri Gorby tests the odd brownish dirt just outside the burnt out frack waste processing building with a Ludlum 3000 Digital Survey Meter, a type of Geiger counter. Readings in this area “maxed out” the unit. Beside him is Jill Hunkler, director of Ohio Valley Allies, a grassroots group active in communities threatened by fracking across the Marcellus-Utica.
Credit: Justin Nobel

It’s around 4 p.m. one fine summer afternoon on a West Virginia hilltop when Dr. Yuri Gorby, a former Department of Energy scientist, gets the first clicks on his Geiger counter. He is wearing a full-body plastic protective suit, and using the device to survey a span of odd brownish dirt near the dilapidated main building of Fairmont Brine Processing, a fracking waste treatment plant that ceased operations in 2017. 

“These are the highest readings I’ve ever seen!” he shouts. “You want to come over here!”

I follow Ohio organizer Jill Hunkler past a graffiti-covered security shack and a vaguely Satanic-looking circle of busted up furniture to find the 62-year-old scientist wearing a look of deep […]

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