Chris Mobaldi died yesterday. In 1995, Chris and her husband, Steve, moved from California to a 10-acre ranch in Rifle, Colorado. Within a year, they had new neighbors — the oil and gas industry. They began drilling on a property about 3,000 feet to the west, and soon there were about 20 wells within a mile of their home. The Mobaldis began to experience burning eyes and nosebleeds. Chris’ symptoms soon worsened: fatigue, headaches, hand numbness, bloody stools, and rashes, welts and blisters on her skin. The pain became unbearable.
Chris was eventually diagnosed with some sort of chemical exposure, but the doctor could not identify what the chemicals were. Her joints began swelling and large white bumps started appearing on her elbows and hands. Steve experienced rectal bleeding. Two of their dogs developed tumors, as did a neighbor’s dog. Newly planted trees on their ranch began dying.
The drillers invaded. In congressional testimony in 2007, Steve Mobaldi wrote:
In 1997 employees from an oil and gas company were on my property when I arrived home. We were informed a natural gas well was being placed across the street and the drilling was to go under our property. The rig operated for months about 300 feet from our house. There was an open unlined pit closer than the rig. Then they began flaring and it shook our house day and night for weeks.
The gas well was finished in 1998. Their neighbor’s water well soon exploded and fracking fluid spewed everywhere; the neighbors had to evacuate their home. The next day, oil and gas employees told the Mobaldis to stop drinking their water and that fresh water would be provided to them. Four months later, they were told their water had been tested and was safe to drink again.
Although the water would fizz like soda with smaller bubbles, we were told the water was safe. Sand began to accumulate in our water filter. If we set a glass of water out overnight, a thin oily film would float on top. We stopped drinking it.
In March 2001, Chris developed a pituitary tumor. Two years later, she had another one. In 2004, the Mobaldis packed up and moved 60 miles west to Grand Junction, abandoning the house after trying to sell it for years.
The move slowed the progression of her illnesses, but the damage had been done. In 2005, Chris’ gallbladder had to be removed. It was the size of a small pineapple with excessive adhesions. And yesterday she died, 45 days after surgery for her third pituitary tumor. Chris Mobaldi was 63.
The Mobaldi’s story is shown in the 2009 documentary Split Estate.Share This: