The residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania are fighting to prevent their eviction by a water withdrawal facility serving the “fracking” industry.
The conflict has been ongoing since last February, when the owner of the land on which the trailer park is situated sold it to Aqua America PVR, whose owner is a former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, and the residents immediately received eviction notices. Even before the sale, the property had been rezoned as industrial and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission had given permission for Aqua America to withdraw up to 3 million gallons of water from the river every day.
The residents, most of them middle-aged or elderly, were offered only token payments to help them relocate in an area where the influx of gas workers has already sent rents soaring. Although some did leave, others decided to fight back with the help of anti-fracking activists and Occupy Wall Street.
That resistence now appears to be reaching a climax. The remaining eleven families set up barricades at the entrance to the community on Friday, when construction was scheduled to begin, and have proclaimed an international “Day of Action” for Monday, June 4.
They expect to start negotiations with Aqua America on Tuesday, and are demanding the right to remain in their homes and compensation and a right of return for those who have already left. They are also calling for pressure on state and federal governments to encourage them to withdraw Aqua America’s permit when the Susquehanna River Basin Commission meets on June 7.
At this point, it is not clear what is likely to happen. Stanley Rogouski, who has been reporting from the scene for the Huffington Post, explains that “Lycoming country is a poor, semi-rural area and the natural gas industry promises to bring jobs to the area. Nearby Williamsport has the air a boom town. Nicholas DeBenedictis, Aqua America, and the One Percent have, at their fingers, the power to coerce and propagandize that would be difficult to resist if it were brought to bear on Riverdale with the force that it was brought to bear on Zucotti Park and Oscar Grant Plaza last fall.”
This video was uploaded to YouTube by media4movements on April 9, 2012.